Family-focused SUV/crossovers are growing in popularity. The Kia Seltos is perfectly placed to take advantage of the growth in this market segment.
The Kia Seltos is available locally from Kia Motors Zimbabwe, the only official dealership of the Kia brand in Zimbabwe.
Make no mistake, the all-new Kia Seltos is a very good and charming family car. It looks great, has enough convenience items and space to keep its occupants satisfied, is refined and very nice to drive, and sips fuel at a miserly rate. There is also no doubt that the 1.5CRDi is the most sensible engine for real-world usage, thanks to its refinement and strong torque delivery.
For most modern families, a compact SUV or crossover offers an unbeatable combination of practicality, space, and ease of driving – and the era of conventional sedans and hatchbacks is slowly coming to an end as a result. Fortunately, most of the newest crop of crossovers are essentially just somewhat lifted station wagons, with no real aspirations of driving on anything worse than a gravel road and with a decided focus on on-road manners.
The Kia Seltos is a prime example of this car/wagon/cute-bakkie mix, and effectively replaces the slow-selling Cerato in Kia’s model line-up. Fortunately, the Seltos has a solid set of virtues, being as easy to live with as a traditional sedan/hatchback, good-looking enough to turn heads at the office car park, and comparatively well-priced to sweeten the deal.
Within its model range, the Seltos diesel is arguably the best-balanced offering, with a frugal and torquey engine, a decent standard features list, good handling, and a reasonable cost of entry. As it were, the Seltos 1.5CRDi is the Goldilocks of its family: not too spartan inside, not too slow, and not too thirsty.
There’s no denying that the Seltos is a very good-looking car. Kia’s signature “Tiger Nose” front-end design language is very much in evidence, but it’s evolved to the point where it merely forms part of an attractive greater whole instead of being the main focal point.
Horizontal design elements are used to emphasize its width, and extend into the stylish “double-decker” headlamps, which use wrap-around LED DRL elements to create a distinctive visage. Further visual interest is generated by the knurled finish applied to the silver decorative strips that form the grille’s upper- and lower edges.
In profile, the Seltos has generic compact SUV proportions and the practical shape that’s most-commonly employed in vehicles of this type. Discreet surface detailing and horizontal crease lines keep it from looking slab-sided, and neatly-applied black accents in the lower doors and on the rearmost roof pillar visually break any impression of bulkiness.
Much the same applies to the rear end, where LED light cluster detailing maintains some visual interest in a familiar-looking design. That familiarity is no accident, mind you – the larger Sportage and Sorento SUVs employ similar light cluster shapes and compound-curved bumpers to add some distinction to styling that largely fit the moulds of their respective classes. In short, the Seltos won’t win any awards for avant-garde design, but it’s a handsome car that’s sure to age gracefully.
Even though many passenger car manufacturers are now abandoning diesel propulsion, Kia still releases new oil-burning vehicles on a regular basis. The engine in the new Seltos is a great example of Kia’s diesel expertise, and even manages to hide the fact that it runs on “heavy fuel” very effectively. Our test car’s motive power was provided by a 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine, rated at 86 kW and 250 Nm, mated to a lovely, slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox (there are two 6-speed automatic diesel Seltoses available as well, in two trim levels).
It’s a really nice power unit, with a strong torque delivery as soon as the rev counter points to the north of 1 500 r/min, and it offers useful urge almost all the way through to its limiter at 4 500 r/min. Most importantly, the engine is generally very quiet in operation, and only reveals its fuel source briefly from a cold start. The clutch operation is equally easy to live with, thanks to low pedal pressure and a consistent take-up point.
The Seltos kerb weight is 1 438 kg. The 0 – 100 km/h dash is dispatched in a claimed 11.5 seconds, and you can floor it to a maximum 176 km/h on paper.
In addition to its effortless power delivery, this diesel engine’s fat wedge of mid-range torque enables the driver to short shift, keeping the revs low to minimize fuel consumption and reduce noise levels in general driving. That smooth-shifting gearchange also helped in this aspect, and enabled reasonably rapid progress that was both unobtrusive and frugal.
Kia quotes an average consumption of only 5.1 ℓ/100 km for the manual diesel Seltos, but a week’s worth of mixed-cycle driving without any particular effort to conserve fuel revealed a real-world average figure of 5.8 ℓ/100 km. That’s a highly commendable result for a vehicle of this size and weight, and really represents the upper limit of what buyers could expect in real-life usage.
Continuing the easy-driving theme, the Seltos offers a finely honed blend of comfort and control. The suspension is clearly tuned for a smooth ride, but in spite of its tall-ish stature, the Seltos somehow manages to avoid feeling soggy or ponderous in more-spirited driving. Make no mistake, there are no sporting pretenses at play here: this is unashamedly a family-biased vehicle, so enthusiastic drivers likely won’t rave over the driving experience. It’s not a sports car.
As befits a family car, the Kia Seltos is endowed with a spacious cabin and plenty of usable boot space. There’s enough room in the back to allow reasonably spacious accommodation for 3 average adults, with plenty of head- and legroom all round. The front pews have more than enough space for even beanpoles to stretch out in every direction, and the deep side glass makes for an airy atmosphere and good sightlines to the outside.
The luggage compartment can handle a middling 433 litres with all seats in use, and can be expanded via the split-folding rear seatback. Lifting the large boot floor out of the way reveals a full-sized spare wheel, which is a handy thing in a car that will most likely see plenty of long-distance travel.
As for comfort, there’s very little to fault. All the user interfaces are intuitively located, the leather-rimmed steering wheel is nice to hold, and the cloth-trimmed seats are contoured to cosset their occupants for long stretches at a time. Combine that with the smooth ride quality and well-contained overall noise levels, and the Kia Seltos becomes a companion you’d want in your life for many years to come.
Seeing as “EX” trim presents the entry level of the local Seltos range, it makes do without some of the luxury items you’d find in the more-expensive variants. However, the bases are all covered, and occupants won’t feel deprived or inconvenienced in any way.
Standard kit includes 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, electric side mirrors and -windows (the latter, curiously, with one-touch functionality only when opening the driver’s window), remote central locking, auto-on headlights, and a colour touchscreen infotainment system with USB/Bluetooth functionality and full smartphone mirroring.
It’s not like it looks stripped-out, either, as the manual air conditioning’s control setup looks particularly good in its piano-black setting and the trim quality is of a high level throughout (albeit with plenty of hard plastics in evidence). It’s all screwed-together tightly as well, and our test car didn’t exhibit a single rattle or squeak during its time with us.
There’s a high-trim (EX+) diesel in the range as well (albeit only with an automatic gearbox), which adds upsized (17-inch) alloy wheels, folding rear-view mirrors, leather seat upholstery, and some cosmetic add-ons inside and out.
Standard equipment includes 6 airbags, ABS with brake assist, rear ISOFIX child seat anchors, rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera across the range. EX trim strangely loses out on one crucial element, however: the stability control system which is fitted to the more-expensive EX+ (and GT Line) variants. In its market segment, this is a notable omission, and its inclusion to the EX+ trim makes it worthwhile to rather fork out the extra money for added peace of mind.
For a starting price of USD 36 802 and top spec is USD 39 563, the Seltos is presents a value for money proposition than competition. It has an excellent aftersales package as part of the deal which includes a warranty for 3 years/100000 km.
For more information on Kia Seltos Call or Whatsapp KIA Motors Zimbabwe on 0719 190 736 or visit www.kiamotors.co.zw.