WHAT IS IT? Much like just about every other vehicle manufacturer these days, Kia has embraced the SUV and now has three players in the field – Seltos, Sportage and Sorento.

WHAT IS IT?

Much like just about every other vehicle manufacturer these days, Kia has embraced the SUV and now has three players in the field – Seltos, Sportage and Sorento. (The Sonnet has also been revealed overseas and will no doubt be heading this way in time.) The Seltos is currently the smallest of the Kia SUVs, competing with the likes of the Hyundai Creta (which is closely related), VT T-Cross, Renault Duster, Subaru XV, Maxda CX-3, Suzuki Vitara and Honda HR-V, as well as a host of others.  

WHY THIS?

Flip but Kia is making good cars at the moment, and backing them up with great service and warranties. Just about everyone wants an SUV these days, no matter where they live and what they do or how many kids they have! The Seltos is a compact SUV for those of you who want a Kia but don’t need the space of a Sportage or Sorento.

It has so much going in its favour: great looks, well-appointed interior, excellent build quality and, with the introduction of the turbodiesel model, a very economical engine that also has enough torque to make it fun to drive. 

OUTSIDE

There’s a lot going on at the front of the Seltos – a big grille with chrome trim, a cluster of large sweeping headlights, foglights in a fairly extravagant housing, an air dam below the grille… It works, but some potential buyers might find it a bit over the top. The sides are quite reserved in comparison, with black trim over the wheel arches and a scooped side panels the only points of interest. The rear is somewhere in the middle of this, design wise, and is actually my favourite view of the car.

INSIDE

When you open the door and are greeted by quilted leather seats, the immediate impression is of luxury. (This is reason enough to buy the EX+ model over the cloth-seated EX.) Standard on the EX model areair-conditioning, automatic headlight control (including an ‘escort’ and ‘welcome home’ function), steering wheel-mounted remote controls, electric windows, cruise control, and an 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone mirroring, as well as Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, and has charging USB ports for front and rear passengers. A full-sized spare wheel is standard. The EX+ model gets the beautiful leather upholstery and a couple of other minor titivations.

All models get six airbags and ABS braking with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), as well as rear park distance control sensors and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, integrated into the vehicle’s touchscreen infotainment system.

 THE DRIVE

The refinement of the interior is echoed by the quality of the drive. There are three engine options in the Seltos range, a 1.6-litre petrol, 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, and this, the 1.5 turbocharged diesel, as well as manual and automatic gearbox choices. The 1.6 produces 90kW/151Nm, the 1.4 produces 103kW/242Nm, and the diesel produces 86kW/250Nm, and on the road the diesel feels so good that there’s I’d have no hesitation in choosing it over the rest of the lineup. 

FINAL WORD

It’s very hard to find fault with the Seltos, particularly in this turbodiesel automatic guise. It’s a car that you’ll enjoy owning and travelling in, equally as comfortable at home as it is on the open road or in the (relative) wilds. Kia has given it everything it needs to succeed, from the engine to the interior quality, the space and the warranty. It’s up to the buyers to see if the price matches the package.

GO GET IT

The Seltos range starts at R391 995 and goes up to R482 995, while the EX+ diesel costs R457 995 and is the pick of the bunch. As with all KIA models, all KIA Seltos models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading Unlimited Kilometre/5-year warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance), and also include a 5-year/90 000km Service Plan. Visit www.kia.co.za for more information.

The hits

  • Engine flexibility
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride quality
  • Interior finishes

 The misses

  • Not cheap, but then it doesn’t feel cheap
  • Polarising looks, perhaps

Gallery

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