Kia Seltos 1.5 CDRi EX+ Auto
Kia have become a matured and trusted brand in South Africa. It has been a while since I was last in a Kia and as I sit here in Joburg with snow gently falling all around I am contemplating my experiences with it.
Immediately the first impressions after a few kms are that the range of the car is exceptional. I think I did just on 200kms on it before the needle moved off the ‘full mark’ – and I was beginning to wonder if it was working. It’s an unusually pleasant feeling to see the needle move more slowly than a politician to work.
The onboard computer told me I could expect around 800km on a tank of diesel which is a useful quantity of kms and I am sure you should be able to test around 1,000km if you did an economy run. In general terms fuel economy you can aim for under 5 l/100 on the open road with careful driving, and around 6 l/100 in the urban context with careful driving.
The diesel engine is a small 1.4 turbo diesel motor that puts out a somewhat less than impressive 86kW but attaches that to 250Nm of torque that makes the Seltos stand up and go when needed. Whilst the Seltos is a bit on the heavy side at 1438kg I can’t say it was an issue in both urban cruising and highway driving. Overtaking was easy and it is in part to the 6 speed automatic box that I suspect has CVT overtures about it. I say that because it is super smooth and seems to stick as CVTs do at some revs before it seems to then ‘kick on’. It seems to be in the power band most of the time too which is credit to where CVTs (which are supposed to) excel. But, if you do need a quick downshift it kicks in reasonably quickly and gets you accelerating without undue drama.
I have to comment that the build quality Kia is putting out these days is noteworthy. The Seltos is demonstrably quiet on the open road and the ride is well balanced between comfort and handling. It feels mini SUV like despite being a 4 door hatchback with a crossover body shape classification. Potholes and poor road surfaces are not a problem for the Seltos perhaps surprisingly so as to its ability to deal with them. As occupants of the Seltos, the work being done by the car on the outside will remain largely hidden to you.
Whilst on the topic this build quality extends to an interior that is simple, clean and comfortable. The quilted leather seats look amazing – but at R507k for this EX+ version perhaps climate control could have been included. That said though the aircon is fast and effective.
Click to see quick video of the car
A fully functional steering wheel works well and dispatches with the need to manually access any of the primary functions of the onboard computer. The Seltos wirelessly AAACPs itself for you but having to use its voice recognition when in Android Auto mode does present challenges and perhaps avoid this might be the best advice.
The sound system is acceptable without being exceptional if one is listening critically. The aforementioned cabin insulation certainly helps you enjoy the music by not having to crank it to 100 dB+ in order to get over tyre noise and road roar. In this case these tyres are 215/60’s on 17″ mag rims and this is as it should be. Nothing untoward or odd here and they fits the style of the vehicle perfectly. You do also get a full size in the boot – which itself is mid sized at around 430l, but relatively easy to access from a flat load bay which I like and of course you can drop the rear seats in the usual 60/40 split.
Looks wise the Seltos is in all honesty a bit betwixt and between. I like the front and the headlights but is it just more of the same these days? Love or hate the KN badging (sorry Kia, it is a thing) the visual drama is perhaps thankfully more understated than some of it’s shoutier ‘look at me’ competition. I think over the longer term this is a better approach to adopt to ensure the Seltos still carries its looks further down the line.
The rear is pleasant enough without being exceptional and there is an element of practicality about its simple lines and uncluttered clusters.
Where does this leave us? The easy to drive and easy to live with Seltos is perhaps a good example of where the car market is going. Today we have Chinese competitors in the space where the Koreans used to be – competing on price and the toys list in order to gain market share and establish themselves. The likes of Kia have progressed forwards in building refinement, high quality assembly and fewer toys in the cabin may be a small price to pay for a proven product with longevity now no longer in question.
It is the brand maturation process and there is nothing bad about it. The Seltos is an extremely solid offering as a result and Kia are, and rightly so, proud of it.