Named after Celtos – the son of Hercules, Kia’s first India offering has finally rolled off the production line. The Kia Seltos draws its name from the mythical Greek character as well as facets that modern day car buyers are looking out for – sporty and stylish. With the origins of this quirky moniker out of the way, we can safely tell you that the Kia Seltos should set the new benchmark for competition in this segment. The Seltos is a compact SUV that will contend in a rapidly growing market, led by the likes of the Hyundai Creta. We motored all around Goa in different variants of the Seltos, to bring out this review of the first product from the Kia’s stable in India.
SELTOS – A SINGULARITY
At the moment, the Kia Seltos exudes a sense of uniqueness about it in India. Being the first in our country from a manufacturer that has a couple of Red Dot design awards under its belt, Kia had already made waves with the SP2 concept at the 2018 Auto Expo. When seen in the flesh for the very first time, the Seltos has a charming aura that is capable of keeping its eyes fixated. This compact SUV looks quite proportionate and futuristic. With a distinct tiger nose front grille and its crown jewel LED headlamps, the front gets a dapper appearance, one that we feel will ensure immense popularity for the brand in India. Heartbeat LED DRLs, sweeping light bar and ice cube LED fog lamps round up the unique look this SUV sports in the front, with the bumper housing multiple air dams and sporting a neatly chiselled appearance.
The profile of the Kia Seltos is highlighted with strong character lines and seamless curves. The roof line tapers slowly towards the rear and gives the Seltos a definite SUV-like look. This is further highlighted by roof rails and squared-off wheel arches. The rear has a broad and bulky look with elegantly crafted heartbeat tail lamps. With an adequate amount of cuts and creases, the design of Kia Seltos exudes a profound sense of craftsmanship.
Kia is offering the Seltos in two trims – the Tech Line and the GT Line. While the former appears to be positioned for urban family-oriented buyers, the latter is targeted at customers looking for something sporty and youthful. The GT Line gets stylish and sporty elements like dedicated badging, skid plates with red accents, red brake callipers and side cladding. Kia is also offering a contrasting look on the roof and a sporty-looking spoiler as alternate design options.
Step into the cabin of the Seltos and you will be greeted by sophisticated and suave looks. With neatly defined design lines and a smooth blend of quality materials, imbibing the interiors is a rich and refreshing experience. The dashboard offers a nice balance for driver and passenger ergonomic functionality. The construct of the infotainment unit and the instrument cluster in a single housing, give the Seltos a hi-tech and futuristic touch. The Korean auto major has engineered commendable build quality for this compact SUV and the fit and finish are second to none. Kia is also offering different seat upholstery designs to distinguish between the two product lines.
SIZING IT UP
While Kia has built the Seltos ground-up with a keen focus on India, the Korean OEM does fall under the Hyundai Motor umbrella, which effectively means that there exist definite synergies between both companies. For starters, the platform is an updated version of what the present generation Hyundai Creta has been built on. This also translates into slightly larger dimensions – for instance, the Seltos is longer than the Creta by 45 mm and is also wider by 20 mm and has a wheelbase that is longer by 15 mm. Even the boot is larger than that of the Hyundai Creta by around 31 mm.
The overall length of the Kia Seltos stands at 4,315 mm, its width measures 1,800 mm and the height is set at 1,620 mm. The compact SUV offers a wheelbase of 2,610 mm and a spacious boot with 4,33 l of storage capacity. On the inside, the Seltos is stated to offer 1,051 mm of leg room in the front, which is 17 mm over that of the Hyundai Creta. In the rear, its 973 mm of legroom is 31 mm more than the Creta. Shoulder room on the Seltos for front seat occupants stands at 1,409 mm and at 1,395 mm for rear seat occupants. While the former is 22 mm more than the shoulder room on the Creta, the latter offers an additional 30 mm.
Seating comfort in the Kia Seltos is good. With soft cushioning and adequate bolstering, the car offers a comfortable ride over long distances. The rear seat is broad enough for three averagely sized Indians and the nearly flat floor makes seating comfortable. The cabin offers ample storage options for water bottles and even offers a 7.85 l glove box.
Being a Kia and its first product in India, it was widely expected that the Seltos would come with a boatload of features, gadgets and tricks up its sleeve. Essentially, the big question was just how far they would take it on the kit and features front. The Kia has crossed off most of the basic features and functions such as automatic air-conditioning, rear AC vents, keyless entry, push button start/stop, electronically controlled & retracted ORVMs, touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay connectivity, cruise control, steering mounted controls, rear view parking camera and sensors, day & night IRVM with dedicated buttons and USB charging slots.
Over and above these, Kia will be offering dedicated features for its different product lines – the GT-Line & Tech-Line. To make the offerings more lucrative, Kia has added features such as side & curtain airbags, tyre pressure monitoring system, AI voice assist, electronic stability control, hill hold control, vehicle stability management, brake assist, air purifier with a perfume diffuser, automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, parking sensors in the front and rear as well as a rear view camera.
On the Tech-Line, customers will get features such as ventilated front seats, electronic sunroof and 8-way power adjusted seats. While these features are absent on the GT-Line, Kia is offering an 8-inch HUD (heads-up display) as well as multiple drive and traction modes. The GT-Line also gets exclusive badging as well as exterior enhancements such as red brake calipers, red accents on skid-plates and more. Additionally, Kia has built in a 360-degree camera system on the GT-Line that gets blind view camera displays in the multi-information display (MID) cluster.
But the functionality doesn’t stop there, Kia will be offering the Seltos with a host of 37 connectivity features, the highlight of these are remote engine start/stop, remote air-conditioning control, remote air purifier control, remote door lock/unlock, check fuel status and tyre pressure status, stolen vehicle tracking & immobilisation, AI voice commands, in-car air quality monitoring and vehicle diagnostics, among others. Kia has tied up with many companies to ensure seamless connectivity for vehicles and their customers. The company has even set up an exclusive 24x7 call centre for concierge services and tied up with partners like Amazon Web Services for a non-hackable cloud server.
KIA’S SIX PACK
Kia may just have outdone itself on the powertrain front. The six pack refers to six different powertrains on offer, three of which are manual transmissions mated to a 1.5 l naturally aspirated petrol, a 1.5 l turbo diesel & a 1.4 l turbo GDI petrol. All three engines will also get automatic transmission options. However, these will not be the same across any engine. While the 1.5 l petrol engine comes mated to an IVT (Intelligent CVT) automatic transmission, the 1.5 l diesel is being offered with a 6-speed AT and the 1.4 l turbo GDI petrol engine gets the sporty 7-speed DCT transmission.
We got a chance to sample the 1.5 l turbo diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, as well as the 1.4 l turbo GDI petrol engine mated to the 7-speed DCT transmission. While the diesel is punchy and powerful, it does not put out as much as the petrol GDI engine. Both the naturally aspirated 1.5 l petrol and the 1.5 l forced induction diesel mill churn out roughly 113 hp, but the diesel produces a higher torque of 250 Nm. The turbo GDI, on the other hand, delivers a neat 138 hp and 242 Nm of torque, making it the sportiest of the lot.
While driving the 1.5 l diesel, we noted the near instant power delivery from the engine. With short shifts in the gear box and a light clutch action, we enjoyed driving through the winding roads in Goa. Kia has worked on the durability and reduction of the clutch force for the manual transmission. The company has also claimed that the clutch’s durability has increased to 200,000 km. On the other hand, the 7-Speed DCT mated to the 1.4 l turbo GDI engine was a different kind of treat. The high revving nature of the petrol motor and the transmission’s tuning to hold gears under hard acceleration make for a thrilling drive.
Add these up with a structure that has 73 % high strength steel and 27 % more structural adhesives than the competition leader. You get a chassis and body that offers great rigidity, rendering better control. We did note mild body roll, but were fascinated with the way the Seltos handled under hard acceleration on winding roads. The suspension on the Seltos is softly sprung, and it is enough to gobble up undulations and bumps. If you drive over bad roads, the suspension does get a bit vocal but occupants aren’t tossed around too much. Handling and braking performance was satisfactory.
The Kia Seltos may not have much to do with Hercules, but it will definitely be a force to reckon with. The compact SUV ticks all the right boxes to make it a blockbuster hit among Indian consumers. With design, features and performance taken care off, Kia is adding distinction with a slew of 19 colour options. The company has offered a wide variety of options across 16 variants, with prices starting at Rs 9.69 lakh and going up to Rs 15.99 lakh.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther