Rock Steady

4 min read
The highly able-bodied Kia Seltos strikes a reliable proposition for those looking for an everyday, do-it-all SUV.

I always look forward to taking out a Kia, if only to see how far and quickly this Korean brand has progressed. Once considered on the ‘economical’ end of the value spectrum, Kia has come a long way from being perennially considered the ‘cheaper’ cousin to the other Korean marque.

The new Kia Seltos is just another timely step in the company’s march towards a bright future.

From the onset, the mid-sized SUV strikes an imposing stature. Okay, I must admit that I feel the front grille section is a tad over-designed, but if you like a full array of LED lights, counter-balancing grille design in the main front-end and bottom spoiler, and lots of chrome, you’d love what the Seltos has to offer.

A busy facade aside, the overall stance of the Seltos is a muscular one. It looks like it’s ready for anything whether it’s charging up an off-road trail, or helping aunties negotiate parking lots at the mall. The piece de resistance of the exterior must be the handsomely designed rear, with the singular chrome bar connecting the beautifully articulated rear lights. The metal plates under the rear bumper add to the adventurous streak with aplomb.

The sporty door scuffs further add a subtle touch of athleticism when the car is viewed on the side, and the 17-inch alloy wheels (SX and GT Line; the EX comes with 16-inch wheels) with its modified five-spoke design perfectly complements the contemporary accent of the Seltos. And if you are the sort who likes to have a little fresh air while you cruise, the single-panel sunroof operable through a single touch provides that al fresco feeling.

Inside, I felt Kia has outdone itself in upping the luxury quotient in its SUVs. The elaborate seat design may be a little fussy, but the ventilated seats are a god-send when the thermometer enters the discomfort zone and you’re stuck in traffic. The Seltos is also incredibly spacious, with the rear row easily seating three full-sized adults, and a luggage capacity of 433 litres (seats up) is more than you can ask for. I put two of my golf bags in there and had space to spare for a quick stop at the supermarket on the way home — no problem at all!

The Kia Seltos has all the bells and whistles on the dashboard that you’ll ever need. I really like the large 10.25-inch high-resolution LCD touchscreen display (Kia Seltos SX), where I can control my infotainment. When reversing, the rear camera is incredibly sharp, letting me see every pebble I needed to avoid when backing into my parking spot. Another feature I like is the head-up display — it really helps me monitor speed and other bits of driving info without me needing to take my eyes off the road.

The seven-inch TFT LCD display behind the steering wheel is simple and elegant, and provides a large area between the tacho and speedometer to display a good variety of driving information.

I thought the connectivity with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto was a nifty inclusion, and I could get all my favourite Spotify tunes going with ease. And when my smartphone needed extra juice, the wireless charger located in front of the gear shift came to my rescue to help me get through the day.

Very often, I encounter lighting schemes in a car that don’t quite suit my eye — no such problem with the Seltos. The vehicle offers six different colour themes that can either change at regular intervals or pulsate in synchronisation, depending on whether I’ve got Earth, Wind & Fire or Burt Bacharach (I’m showing my age here) over the six-speaker sound system.

So how does the Kia Seltos actually perform? Let’s put it this way, it’s unlikely that you’ll find any glaring fault with the way it handles once you get out of Park.

The drive is punchy and smooth, enabling the car to accelerate at my command with little exertion. On paper, the 1.4-litre turbocharged GDi engine may sound a little small for this size of car; in reality, the 140PS of power and 242Nm of torque is more than enough on urban roads or the expressways. I drove the car through the three different modes — Normal, Eco and Sport — and each has distinct differences. I would leave it in Normal and forget about it as I thought it had just the right amount of torque, gear shift profile, and smoothness that I like. I’m not incredibly partial to cruise control, but it’s there if you need it, and it’s easily cancelled with just a light tap on the brakes.

I had the opportunity to test-drive the Kia Seltos SX, but there are two other models available at this time — the EX and the GT. The GT, expectedly, provides an added level of sportiness, with its D-cut steering wheel, centre fascia accent, and stainless-steel pedals. Realistically, though, regardless of which Kia Seltos version you decide on, there is every likelihood that you will not be disappointed.

The Kia Seltos is available from Cycle & Carriage Kia from $97,999 inclusive of COE.