New Kia SUV could become brand’s biggest seller
Another weapon has arrived.
The new big gun isn’t a fire-breathing corner-destroying sports car. Rather the Kia Seltos comes armed with all the vital armoury needed in the automotive battleground.
Fresh in showrooms less than a month, this could become Kia’s biggest selling variant.
Everything Kia has touched in recent times has turned to gold. It was the only top 10 brand to record positive year-on-year growth last month in a declining Australian market.
Larger than the Kona from sister brand Hyundai and smaller than Mazda’s top-selling CX-5, the Seltos arrives offering new middle ground for families, youngsters and empty-nesters.
With a price spread from $25,990-$41,990 drive-away, Kia is also looking appealing to pockets of varying depth.
Base models come with an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, autonomous emergency braking that can help avoid or lessen a frontal accident and reversing camera and sensors.
Our test is in the circa $42k range-topping GT Line which has all the feature boxes ticked. Among the complimentary items are a sunroof, 18-inch alloys, eight-speaker Bose sound system, wireless phone charger, artificial leather trimmed seats and LED lights.
Yellow is the only colour which doesn’t cost extra, with $520 options including blue, two shades of grey, orange, white and black. The two-tone treatments on the GT Line are white or yellow with a black roof — the sunroof isn’t available with the dual colour selections.
Kia set the warranty benchmark of seven years and unlimited kilometres years ago, and it’s been a key part of the brand’s surge in Australia. That coverage remains, while servicing of the turbo petrol engine found in the GT costs an average of $466 if you return to the dealer. Service intervals are short at 10,000km, or annually (the non-turbo models have 15,000km intervals and less expensive servicing).
While autonomous emergency braking is standard, some of the mid-spec models have to pay $1000 extra for safety packs.
Not in the GT, it comes with the full technological gamut. The autonomous braking in this model looks for cars — and also spots pedestrians and bikes to help avoid collisions. It has radar cruise control, functionality which helps steer the car within its lane during highway conditions, rear cross traffic alert and avoidance and blind spot warning.
This model also gets the head-up display which is great for keeping a close eye on your speed.
Many SUV advertisements feature youngsters embracing the freedom of the high-riders.
In fact, it’s the older generations priming the shift away from sedans and hatches. The greater ride height means easier entry and exit for those battling with battered or worn-out bodies — as well as making it easier for families to load children into seats.
Surprisingly roomy, the compact SUV has good head, leg and knee room for those in the back as well as supportive seats front and rear.
Cabin composure and quality resonates and the Seltos borders on prestige standards.
The 10.25-inch colour touchscreen is brilliant along with the seven-inch driver’s instrument cluster, while the premium faux leather found in this model adds an opulent touch.
Bose door speakers feature an interesting 3D-origami style.
Operationally all the buttons and toggles are straightforward with little need for explanation. There are two cup holders front and back, as well as bottle holders in the doors.
One omission is dual zone aircon, it comes with just single zone climate control, but there are second row vents.
Boot space trumps the Mitsubishi ASX (393), the Kona (361) and the Mazda CX-3 (264) at an impressive 433 litres, good enough for a couple of large suitcases, while still maintaining a full-size spare — that is a rarity nowadays. Drop the rear seats and there is 1393 litres of space.
Under-bonnet firepower comes via a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine partnered to a slick-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission.
Quick enough for rapid traffic light getaways, the performance remains swift without being savage. Sport would be the primary preference for those using the console dial to change between driving modes.
Kia has an Australian team which improves the ride and handling, the suspension tuning is changed at the factory for cars coming to Australia, and the Seltos has minimal body roll for an SUV and the steering is precise.
All-wheel drive delivers additional traction and for those who tackle gravel or slippery surfaces it’s the safest pick.
The perfect in-betweener, I’m looking for a high-rider with solid features and external appeal. The Seltos is easy to park and can handle a full load while also having the peace of mind of a long warranty.
With all the features of a prestige offering, I don’t need the first 20cm of my car to prove my worth. Good looks and performance to match.
MITSUBISHI ASX EXCEED $35,740 D/A
Just updated, the big-selling model now comes with the availability of a 123kW/222Nm 2.4-litre 4-cyl. The drive falls short of the Seltos, but it excels in low ownership costs and sporty looks.
HYUNDAI KONA HIGHLANDER $43,500
Powered by the same 130kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo 4-cyl, a refined little package brimming with personality. Currently available with a seven-year warranty.
The price tag above $40,000 is indicative of the kit within Kia’s range-topping Seltos. Those willing to splurge are rewarded with a small SUV that is big on value and offering impressive
AT A GLANCE
KIA SELTOS GT-LINE
PRICE $41,990 drive-away
ENGINE 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 130kW/256Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICING 7 year unl’td km warranty/$3265 over seven visits
SAFETY Not yet rated, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert
SPARE Full size
BOOT 433 litres