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Kia Seltos First-Drive Review: Setting New Benchmarks

The Kia Seltos is loaded with features setting new benchmarks in the segment for its competitors.

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Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan

Sometimes car manufacturers do too much and that’s what I would say about the Kia Seltos. It is loaded with features. Cameras – multiple. Screens – multiple. Name a feature and it’s got it and more. It even has an air purifier and electronic perfume control in it. I mean what were they thinking?

The Quint was invited by Kia Motors to rainy Goa to drive the different variants of the Kia Seltos. We got to drive the 1.4 turbo petrol and 1.5 diesel with seven-speed DCT automatic, six-speed manual and six-speed automatic options. And there’s a lot more.

The Kia Seltos has a futuristic design around it.
Photo: The Quint

The Seltos has an eye-catching design any which way you look at it. The LED daytime running lamps, LED headlights and tail-lights all stand out. The GT line also gets subtle red inserts in the grille and bumper, besides the fancy alloys.


What Does It Feel Like To Drive?

The Kia Seltos comes with three different engine options. 
Photo: The Quint

First up, I drove the 1.4 GDI turbo-petrol GT Line Kia Seltos. This was the manual variant with a six-speed transmission. It puts out 140 PS of power and 242 Nm of torque. Driving it around rainy Goa, you can feel the torque pretty instantly. It’s more than enough for this kind of slow traffic. And when you downshift and stomp on the pedal, it is eager to charge ahead. It definitely has a sporty feel to it.

The suspension on the Kia Seltos feels pretty stiff with a bit of a sporty edge. Handling is precise. The steering is well weighted unlike the Hyundai Creta which feels lighter. That said, the clutch on the 1.4 GDI feels slightly heavy.

Next up, I switched to the 1.4 turbo-petrol with the 7DCT automatic transmission. The thing is with this variant of the Kia Seltos you don’t get all the bells and whistles like there is no sunroof, there is no powered driver’s seat and a few other things. But then I guess Kia has done that to keep the costs down. I just wish the company brings in a variant with all the features too.

The Kia Seltos has a pretty long feature list.
Photo: The Quint

How is it to drive? Well, this car comes with different drive modes. You can switch between Sport, Eco and Normal, when you are driving on the road. And it also has off-road modes. This is a two-wheel drive car, what does off-road mode do? You have snow, mud and sand, which alters the traction control a little bit to give you better grip off-road.

I then sampled the diesel variants of the Kia Seltos. First the one with the six-speed torque-converter automatic. It has a few features missing such as the blind spot cameras and the Heads Up display. This is not the GT line, so you don’t get the red stitching on the upholstery. Unlike other diesel automatics I’ve driven, you don’t feel much lag in this.

The diesel pushes out 115 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque. It is no slouch. I also drove the manual variant, which besides some diesel sound in the cabin, feels quick too.


Feature Creature

The top variants of the Kia Seltos get a Bose system that even features controls for an air purifier and perfume control.
Photo: The Quint

One thing you get behind the wheel of the Kia Seltos is a sense of luxury. Everything is well appointed. It all falls to hand. I especially love this huge dashboard and the instrument panel which spreads out and gives you a kind of cockpit like feel. I think that’s really going to be a winner for this car.

What does take some getting used to is the sheer number of gizmos that it has. There’s a Heads Up display which shows you speed, navigation and essential information. There’s this huge 10.25 inch infotainment system in which you can get lost in the controls. It has mood lighting and perfume control in there!

I would suggest before you drive a Seltos, sit and familiarise yourself with the controls first. There’s just so many of them. I particularly like the blind spot cameras that turn on with the indicators and display on the MID. And then there’s the ventilated seats and the air purifier built into the system.

So while the Seltos is not as big as the MG Hector or the Tata Harrier, it is comparable to the Jeep Compass, Hyundai Creta and probably Renault Duster. In that sense, I think the Kia Seltos is going to win it on its luxury factor.

Overall quality is top notch, everything is well put together. The plastic quality is good. There are not hard plastics. It’s kind of soft touch wherever you put your fingers.

The rear seat is fairly spacious in the Kia Seltos.
Photo: The Quint

Although the Kia Seltos doesn’t look very big on the inside, it actually is fairly spacious. Even rear seat passengers get to know the air quality by looking at a little display over the centrally mounted AC vents.

The car is fairly wide, so sitting three abreast is not a problem. Although it doesn’t look that large like the Tata Harrier or MG Hector. It has subtle niceties like a sun shade and reclining rear seats. In terms of boot space, the Seltos offers 433 litres, which is par for the course.


App Enabled

The Kia UVO app can control and monitor 37 car functions remotely.
Photo: The Quint

The Kia Seltos also comes with an app called the UVO app. Besides the phone app, it can also be summoned by a button on the mirror. You can do things like call a call centre and ask them to feed in directions to your infotainment system or get real-time help. The app itself gives you various features like range of the car, you can geo-fence, or track it in real time.

There are some remote operations as well. You can do a remote engine start on the automatic variant for instance or lock and unlock the car sitting anywhere in the world. Connectivity is managed by Vodafone, so yes, you are dependent on the strength of the network. There are a total of 37 functions that can be controlled remotely using the UVO app, similar to the one in the Hyundai Venue.


What We Think

The Kia Seltos has a variant for every kind of buyer. 
Photo: The Quint

The thing with the Kia Seltos is that there is a variant for everyone. You want a base petrol automatic, base petrol manual you’ve got it. Top-of-the-line turbo-petrol automatic or manual you’ve got it. But in order to keep costs in check, Kia has kind of rationalised on the other features it offers such as the Bose sound system, blind spot cameras or sunroof. In some variants you get it, in some you don’t.

So after driving four variants of the Kia Seltos, which one would I recommend? Personally I like the 1.4 turbo-petrol manual transmission because it’s a lot of fun to drive. The automatic too is good, but you miss out on a few features. I just wish Kia added the features to that. For the mile munchers, the diesel feels quite familiar.

With 13 different colour options, three engine options, four transmission options and a whole load of features, Kia is making sure it makes a mark and setting benchmarks, even though it is late to the mid-size SUV market.

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Topics:  Kia India   Kia Seltos   Kia Seltos Price 

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