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KIA SELTOS

Since its introduction in Mzansi in 2019, the Seltos has become a staple of Kia’s model offering in South Africa, joining the fray in the hotly contested crossover market, and proving to be a competent fighter. Now, Seltos has received its first significant upgrade since launch, and we have had the opportunity to experience the newly updated model in Cape Town.

As is customary with most mid-life model updates, the Seltos has been endowed with a welcome exterior design overhaul. The front end now sports a redesigned bumper with coloured inserts in the lower sections. The honeycomb grille and the front lights are also new, with a new daytime running light (DRL) design. 

The rear has also been reworked and now shows off a more aggressive bumper and a full-length LED light bar that spans the car’s width. The side profile is unchanged except for new side skirts and an option for 16” and 18” alloys. 

Should you wish to add even more unique style, Kia offers new bi-colour paint options paired with a contrasting black roof. 

MORE CHOICE, BETTER TRIM

The Seltos cabin sees an extensive rework, with the changes varying with the new tiers introduced from the new LX model, the mid-range EX and EX-Plus, and the range-topping GT-Line trim. 

According to Kia, the new LX derivative results from extensive market research into competitor offerings and customer feedback.

The most notable change is in the front of the cockpit, where a redesigned centre fascia and a beautifully sculpted, integrated curved display with a slim touchscreen pad and detailed air vents take pride of place.

The base model LX and EX versions come equipped with a relatively small 4.2 TFT screen in the driver zone, complemented by an 8” touchscreen infotainment unit in the LX. LX models come standard with 16” alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, electrically adjustable side mirrors, LED DRLs, and auto headlights. Remote central locking is standard, as is an alarm immobiliser and keyless entry. Other notable entry model features include a leather-clad steering wheel (rake and reach adjustable), 60/40 split second-row seatbacks, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, and cruise control.

The higher trims, however, feature a more market-related 10.25” dual display setup and several luxury interior features, including a storage box with an integrated armrest between the two front seats, an electronic parking brake, and Smart Entry with push-button start. The air-conditioning system is upgraded to dual automatic climate control, while a wireless charging pad and Drive Mode Select ARE also added to the EX-grade and beyond.

Noteworthy additions to EX+ versions is a fully digital 10.25” instrument cluster, while the “tiger nose” grille is upgraded to high-gloss black with signature satin chrome detailing. The enhanced exterior is completed by adding sporty 18” alloy wheels.

Overall, the execution of the cabin looks and feels solid, with the dual-tone leather seat upholstery of the upper trims adding a premium touch to the experience, and, regardless of trim, all infotainment versions boast must-have smartphone integration. 

The cabin has enough space, with sufficient legroom in the back for average-sized adults. As would be expected of a vehicle in this class, it also comes with a notable luggage capacity of 433 litres.

POWER THAT PACKS A PUNCH

The updated Seltos range retains its powerful yet frugal 1.5-litre CRDi engine and introduces two new petrol-powered powertrain options and a new transmission option.

The naturally aspirated petrol selection starts with the entry LX and is also available in both the EX and EX+ grades. This 1.5-litre unit produces 84 kW of power and 144 Nm of torque, and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission on the LX entry model or a new CVT transmission in the remaining LX, EX, and EX+ grades. 

As before, the turbodiesel unit (85 kW and 250 Nm) is offered in LX and EX+ grades and only in combination with Kia’s six-speed manual gearbox. 

The range-topping Seltos GT-Line represents the second petrol offering, although, in this application, it is a turbocharged 1.4-litre unit with substantially more power than its normally aspirated sibling. For the GT-Line, Kia uses a fast-swapping seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that channels the turbocharged engine’s substantial 118 kW and 253 Nm performance into a zero to 100 km/h sprint performance of 8.9 seconds. Normally aspirated petrol Seltos will see the same sprint off in 12.3 seconds, while the turbodiesel versions manage a slightly quicker 12.0 seconds.

LET’S DRIVE!

Although Kia has not updated any suspension components, the Seltos handles beautifully, regardless of your trim choice.

Regarding engine performance, our preferences were narrowed down to the turbodiesel options and the high-performance GT-Line’s 1.4-litre turbo.

On the one hand, the turbocharged petrol provided the sportiest driving experience thanks to its higher performance capability and the well-calibrated DCT transmission. The car was always ready to overtake at highway speeds and was eager to accelerate.

Conversely, the turbodiesel’s torquey grunt at lower engine speeds feels excellent, with highway performance not letting the side down either. The diesel also offers, in our opinion,  better value for money due to its ability to blend economy and performance. The entry-level engine is a good option, as it will meet the basic needs of anyone who desires a city-dwelling daily runner.

LAST WORD

Having spent a brief time behind the wheel of the new Seltos around the beautiful roads of Cape Town and Grey Town, we can attest to how the updated car proved to be a competent crossover that has to compete in a densely populated segment. The looks alone are a selling point before exploring the updated cabin and engine offerings. We look forward to spending more time with the car so that we can confidently rate how it performs daily. Prices start at R467,995.

KIA SELTOS PRICING

Kia Seltos 1.5 LX manual R 467 995
Kia Seltos 1.5 LX auto R 492 995
Kia Seltos 1.5CRDi LX R 521 995
Kia Seltos 1.5 EX R 532 995
Kia Seltos 1.5CRDi EX R 561 995
Kia Seltos 1.5 EX+ R 570 995
Kia Seltos 1.5CRDi EX+ R 599 995
Kia Seltos 1.5T-GDI GT Line R 626 995

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