South Korean Carmaker Kia To Launch Seltos : Will It Make Waves in India?
- Published On: 16 August 2019
- 9 min read
This mid-size SUV made its world debut a few weeks back and we got a chance to sample it in Goa last week.
Introduction: Kia Motors is the second Korean automobile manufacturer to enter India. As most know, Kia is part of the larger “Hyundai Motor Group” but both will operate independently here, like the way they have been doing internationally. Kia’s manufacturing facility has come up in Andhra Pradesh, about four hours from Bangalore and their first offering for India comes in the form of the Seltos.
This mid-size SUV made its world debut a few weeks back and we got a chance to sample it in Goa last week. The Seltos will go on sale on 22nd August and we expect a price tag that will range from Rs 10 - 14 lakh depending in the version you pick. Talking of which, the Seltos will come in about a dozen odd variants in terms of the engine, transmission and trim you pick.
Exteriors: The Seltos is an all-new product and the upcoming 2020 Hyundai Creta will be based on it. In its current form, the Seltos is slightly larger than the Creta and in terms of design, its homework done well. The overall body shell isn’t too radical but it's the front and rear end treatments that get it so much attention on the road. You get LEDs all around and the DRLs or day-time running lights play their own magic. Up front, they start in the headlamps and then run thin and wide till the center of the grille. It does look bling at night and then there are the ice cube fog lamps down there in the bumper - this has been common across current Kia models sold worldwide.
The LEDs and DRLs capture enough attention at the back too and they are bright enough to be seen under the sun. The rear bumper also gets dual diffusers at either ends and adds to the sporty touch. The variant you see is the GT Line that gets additional exterior changes like red finish at places - the bumper lips, side cladding, brake calibers and more. Overall, it's a striking design and the Seltos has enough ammunition to command good street cred.
Interiors: Things are equally good on the inside. Getting in and out is easy and visibility excellent. This is one area where people of all heights will appreciate the Seltos. The window line isn’t too high, A-pillar is thin enough and the airiness further makes you feel confident while driving in start-stop traffic. Next on is the quality of panels and interiors on what is a SUV that will be position alongside the Creta. Top marks here. The endless feature list has been discussed a lot on the Internet and yes, some key elements are either segment first or segment best. There are clever inclusions like cooling vents for the wireless charging pad so that your phone doesn't heat up much. Nice, very nice.
Depending on the version you pick, you either get an all-black theme (that I personally like) or a black-beige theme. The seats, even on the top end trims aren’t pure leather but leatherette and this hints at a rather aggressive pricing. The top spec models (top end automatics might come at a later stage) come with as many as three screens. The largest, a 10.5 inch one is the center of attraction and the comes with a 400W Bose system for the higher versions. The second screen is in the speedometer console while the third one comes in the form of the HUD or the heads-up display.
Comfort wise, the front two seats do a good job and even for tall drivers, there is ample space in terms of headroom and should space. Things are equally good at the back - two 6 feet tall adults can sit behind each other very comfortably. Like the front seats, visibility in here is excellent too and you don't feel hammered in. The rear bench is stationed slightly high too and this further allows even shorter ones to have a view of the outside world.
Boot space, at just over 430 liters isn’t too generous but enough for a weekend’s luggage.
Engine: In terms of engines, the Seltos will be offered with a choice of three engines. This includes a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated (non turbo) petrol, a 1.5-litre turbo diesel and a 1.4-litre turbo petrol. This last option will be offered in GT Line avatar and is the pick the of the lot for those looking at performance. In terms of numbers, it belts out 140 PS of power and 242 Nm of torque (that’s as much as the turbo diesel) and comes with both a 6-speed manual and a 7 speed DCT or dual clutch automatic transmission. We had limited time but managed to drive both and must say, it’s a lovely motor. NVH or noise, vibration and harshness levels are well under control and thanks to a flat torque curve that comes in early, there is no dearth of punch lower down in the rev range. The 1.4 petrol Seltos can putter along in traffic all day long and when you want to go pedal to metal, it responds very well.
The 7 speed DCT is an excellent unit and among the best this side of the Rs 20 lakh mark. It feels a generation better than that on the MG Hector and responds quickly to your inputs. Dropping a gear or two happens within a fraction of a second and though there aren’t any paddle shifters on offer, flicking the gear lever to the right allows you to take manual charge.
The 1.5 diesel is the one we drove next. It is a size down on the Creta’s diesel but the upcoming 2020 Creta will eventually use this along with the Verna. Why? This unit, along with the other two engines from Kia, are BS-6 ready and will be able to meet the emission norms once they come into play. Of course, hardware changes will be required but as of now, they are clean and adaptable. Back to the motor, like the petrol one, this one too scores top marks in terms of refinement. Noise insulation is terrific and this is what will keep buyers happy - no unwanted clatter or drone from the oil burner. It makes 115 PS of power and the max torque of 250 Nm stats coming in from as low as 1500rpm. Further, turbo lag is well under control and the Seltos diesel can be driven easily in traffic without having to downshift often. Even when you do, the gear shift quality wins you over!
Handling: In terms of ride quality, I would say, Kia has got it right. It isn’t as plush as the Hector but remains very comfortable, even for the GT Line versions that come with taller 17-inch alloy wheels with lower profile tyres. We did drive the car over some bad patches and were not thrown around at all. That said, the steering will not keep enthusiasts happy and is typically Korean in the way it feels. Light and electric. Talking of which, the automatic GT Line / 1.4 turbo GDI motor comes with drive and traction modes. The former offers Eco and Sport modes which not only alter the way power comes in but also change the way the steering feels - much like what the XUV300 does. In Sport mode for instance, the steering does weight up more and becomes ‘heavy’, aiding confidence at higher speeds. The traction mode on the other hands allows you to pick between mud, snow and sand. This again changes the way the power and torque flow in so that you can get the Seltos out of tricky situations.
Kia hasn’t announced the post purchase elements like service costs or warranty but we do know all this, along with the pricing, will be disclosed on 22nd. If Kia can price the Seltos from Rs 10 lac onwards for the base variants, it will definitely be an attractive proposition and even eat into the sales of larger SUVs like the Harrier and Hector.