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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Kia Seltos

Kia has been so quiet lately you almost forgot about them, right? LIAR! One can never forget about Kia. It remains one of my favourite brands and if I could own a Sportage, I would be the happiest girl there ever was. Alas, it is not to be (right now). So it is with the joy of a thousand Golden Retrievers that I announce the launch of the new Kia Seltos.

SELTOS OR CELTOS?

It is, indeed, Seltos, but it is named after the son of Hercules, Celtus. According to Kia, the ‘s’ is to imply sportiness and speed. Alrighty then! Either way, all Kia SUV’s will start with an S going forward.

I am not going to bore you again with talk about the compact SUV segment. I feel we are all now on board and know that it is bursting at the seams. Kia has never before offered something within this segment. In fact, if one was to upgrade from something like the Rio, the only option was the Sportage. As much as it would be a fantastic jump, it is a jump just a bit too far for most. The same goes for those looking to buy down from the Sportage. The Rio just doesn’t offer enough in terms of space. Enter the Seltos! It is that perfect bridge between the Rio and the Sportage (this is while the Sonet is still on its way).

It can get pretty tricky with compact SUVs. People often ask me about a Toyota RAV4 versus a Volkswagen T-Cross, for example. These are indeed compact SUVs, but they are different in size and price. The Seltos sits in a section all on its own really. It is bigger than the T-Cross and Hyundai Creta, it’s about a Renault Duster size, but sits quite close to more expensive and slightly bigger compact SUVS. Many are seeing it as an alternative to the Nissan Qashqai. Essentially, it has no direct competitor.

Look, you could get yourself an entry-level Toyota RAV4 or even a Hyundai Tucson for the price that the top spec Seltos will cost you. It comes down to that really tricky decision of whether to go for a top of the range lower-end car or bottom of the range higher-end car. Tricky, tricky!

Kia Seltos rear

THERE’S NO ENTRY LEVEL HERE

You have a choice of four variants, including two engine options and three trim levels. The “entry’ trim level is the EX, then you get the EX+ and then the range-topping GT-Line. But here’s the thing, the EX offers so much standard spec it is hard to call it “entry-level.” I realise ‘entry level’ means it is the point at which you enter, but it does have a somewhat negative connotation to it which lends people to think that it is a budget-buy. Which the EX is certainly not.

The EX enjoys air conditioning, automatic headlight control, a multifunction steering wheel, electric windows, cruise control, an 8-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Andoird Auto, USB ports in the front and rear, and 16-inch Alloy wheels. You see what I mean? What else do you really need?

The EX+ adds leather upholstery which some people prefer (I am not one of those people, I hate a burnt or freezing bum), hill-start assist, electronic stability control and 17-inch Alloys. The GT-Line, which has proven to be the most popular model in South Africa so far, adds some chrome elements and styling details as well as a Drive Mode Select with 2WD terrain mode. Personally, the EX+ is more than sufficient for me. It all feels very premium inside. All the materials used are of a fantastic quality and it certainly gives the Seltos the edge over some of its rivals (whomever they are). Basically, whichever Seltos you choose, you shall be satisfied with.

Kia Seltos interior

WHAT DRIVES THE SELTOS?

You can opt for the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine which is offered on the EX and EX+ models or you can go straight to the top with the GT-Line and enjoy the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The former produces 90 kW and 151 Nm which is sufficient for around town. It certainly strains a bit when overtaking on the open road, but the torque-converter automatic on the EX+ is well suited to this engine and so allows you to get the most out of the engine when need be. Fuel consumption sat around 7.5l/100 km on the launch route. Something you might want to consider.

The turbocharged 1.4-litre is obviously the favourite here. But it is only available in that GT-Line so you might want to take the EX+ for a drive as you might find yourself happier spending less even if it doesn’t shine on performance. You’ll achieve a better fuel consumption figure in the GT-Line, naturally.

Kia Seltos GT-Line

SHOULD YOU BUY A SELTOS?

Hell yes! Like I mentioned in the intro, I am a huge Kia fan. I think it is still far too underrated a brand, but I am hoping that with the introduction of products like the Seltos and the highly-anticipated Sonet, the younger generations will get in to this brand and stick with it.

Plus, you get an unlimited kilometre/five-year warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance), and five-year/90,000km service plan as standard across the range. You can’t be that. You really, really can’t.

PRICNG OF THE NEW KIA SELTOS

Seltos 1.6 EX Manual                           R 353 995

Seltos 1.6 EX Automatic                       R 371 995

Seltos 1.6 EX+ Automatic                     R 389 995

Seltos 1.4 T-GDi GT-Line                     R 444 995

If any of the cars I speak about tickle your fancy, check out the new car listing on carmag.co.za. You might just find your perfect match (I just made that sound like a dating site, ah well!).

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