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It may be a late arrival on the small-crossover scene but the Kia Seltos is difficult to ignore...

Unlike its relative Hyundai, Kia’s SUV/crossover stable has been sparsely populated by its Sportage and Sorento lines. Now, with the proliferation of small and midsize SUVs and crossovers, Kia has finally decided to climb on the bandwagon with an entry-level offering in the shape of the bold-looking Seltos. But, while it certainly has the cosmetic goods to warrant our attention, it needs to back up those striking looks with some real substance, especially with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Cross and Hyundai Creta snapping up sales at an astonishing rate.

Placing the Seltos in the Kia range is easy enough but its spot in the larger landscape is a little harder to define. It may sit at the first rung of Kia’s crossover/SUV ladder but its dimensions are generally larger than those of its expected rivals. This GT-Line’s price tag, too, sees it rubbing shoulders with competitors from the segment above, such as certain Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson models.

Kia has a knack for producing some of the more visually appealing cars in their respective segments and it hasn’t skipped a beat with the Seltos. The square nose, imposing grille and headlamp clusters that cut daringly deep into both the bumper and the front wings really grab attention.

The GT-Line cosmetic additions to this purposeful-looking car are hit and miss. There’s a lot of brightwork going on, with chromed finishes adorning the nose, shoulder line and tail. Certain aspects of its application are suitably sporty and no doubt play a role in turning heads but the knurled patina applied to the top of the grille surround is divisive and detracts from one of the car’s best visual elements: those striking LED daytime-running lights that flow into the apex of the signature tiger-nose grille.

It’s a similar story inside, where some neat features are accented with sporty elements to mixed results. Some are delightful; the steel pedal boots and sports seats with contrasting red stitching are particularly pleasing. Others are more of an acquired taste, such as the gloss-black plastic trim adorning the instrument binnacle and mood lighting that can be programmed to pulse to the beat of whatever music you’re playing. Perceived quality is, by and large, good. Barring a smattering of thin-feeling plastics, everything appears well put together and the addition of stitched and padded panels on the facia and doorcards helps move things upmarket.

The Seltos’ interior packaging is nowhere near as divisive, though. Finding a comfy driving position is a cinch with plentiful adjustment on the lightly bolstered front seats and the inclusion of a rake-and-reach-adjustable steering column. Rear legroom is generous. The 256-litre boot is a bit on the small side for a crossover in this bracket but that’s the concession of mounting a full-size spare wheel under the load floor. Drop the rear seatbacks and the Seltos atones for this shortcoming with an impressive 1 072 litres of utility space.

As the halo model, the GT-Line’s standard specification doesn’t want for much with keyless entry and go, automatic full-LED headlamps, touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration and electro-chromatically dimming rearview mirror. The omission of features such as climate control and auto wipers is a bit odd given its top billing in the model line.

Korean carmakers’ proclivity for naturally aspirated petrol engines has been a moot point in some of its model lines, with larger cars suffering from a lack of low- to mid-range punch. It’s refreshing to see Kia has opted to go the turbocharged route with its 1,4-litre, four-cylinder Kappa III petrol engine servicing this range-topping GT-Line model. With just 1 282 kg of Seltos to deal with, the 103 kW peak power output is plentiful. Mechanical refinement is also impressive, as even when pushed, the engine doesn’t become boomy or coarse. This does, however, highlight road noise when travelling at motorway speeds. Thankfully, the turbopetrol is fairly frugal and our 100 km test returned a 6,6 L/100 km average consumption.

Of course, it’s that healthy dose of torque which forced induction brings to the party that’s especially welcome. The Kappa III’s 242 N.m spans a broad 1 500 to 3 200 r/min of the rev range, lending it enough in-gear punch to make overtaking manoeuvres fairly effortless. The expected low-end torque benefits aren’t as pronounced as we’d expected, though, and the gearbox is the likely culprit here.  

While the 1,4-litre engine was well received, the dual-clutch transmission didn’t meet with the same unanimous praise. The gearshifts are quick and buttery-smooth, but there’s a noticeable pause between throttle input and kick-down from pull-away that takes a little fluidity out of an otherwise pleasant driving experience. It’s especially apparent when the dial on the three-mode drivetrain management system is nudged into eco. This notably dulls throttle response and the subsequent need to lean on the pedal to gain some momentum often sets the engine revving before the transmission hooks second. Opting for sport mode goes some way in addressing off-the-line sluggishness but, again, its willingness to swap cogs at the drop of a hat is welcome when looking to press on. It’s not ideal for leisurely round-town driving, though. These criticisms may sound niggly but that’s only because the transmission is otherwise so smooth and well calibrated.

Once you’ve figured out the transmission’s vagaries, the Seltos begins to impress from behind the wheel. Those handsome 17-inch rims are shod with fairly plump 60-profile rubber, so the ride is a touch firm. That’s about the extent of any negatives regarding the Seltos’ handling. In fact, the electrically assisted steering is well geared and noticeably more communicative and alert than some soggy setups that mar the driving experience in many Korean cars. Brisk directional adjustment will see some body roll but not to a disconcerting degree and the overall driving dynamics are commendably balanced.
CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – The lines between segments are becoming increasingly blurry. Such is the sustained popularity of the crossover body style that manufacturers are shoehorning box-fresh nameplates into the narrow gaps between conventional vehicle classes.

While consumers are sometimes left scratching their heads, puzzled about which model fits where in a given line-up (and indeed which one competes with which in the broader market), automakers are rushing to fill every conceivable crossover-shaped space. Can we blame them? Not really. The demand’s clearly there.

So, where does Kia's fresh-faced Seltos fit into the picture? Well, measuring 4 315 mm nose to tail, it’s a little larger than the outgoing Hyundai Creta (but a touch shorter than, say, a Renault Duster), slotting in just below the Sportage and thus leaving space for the upcoming baby Sonet. In production form, the latter will be about the size of its Venue cousin and step into the role of entry-level Kia crossover when it arrives locally later in 2020.

Segment straddler or not, there’s undoubtedly a place in the local market for something the size of the Seltos, what with the Sportage having grown with each of its first four generations. Indeed, the Indian-built newcomer (the first model out of Kia’s just-built Anantapur plant) has already found favour in South Africa, with 830 units sold in its first two full months on sale, seeing it immediately take up the mantle of Kia’s best-seller.

Since launch (the first units were on dealer floors in mid-November 2019), the local line-up has comprised four variants, including two engine options and three trim levels. The range kicks off with a naturally aspirated 1,6-litre petrol mill, driving the front axle via either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission with the same number of cogs. This free-breathing unit is offered in both EX and EX+ trim (although exclusively in self-shifting guise in the latter).

At the summit of the line-up, you’ll find the GT-Line variant, which boasts a turbocharged 1,4-litre petrol engine worth 103 kW and 242 N.m, linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Interestingly (and somewhat surprisingly), the Korean brand’s local distributor says this R444 995 range-topper has been the top seller early on, with particular demand for units finished in white with a black roof.

And what about oil-burning fans? Well, Kia Motors South Africa also confirmed new 1,5-litre turbodiesel derivatives have been pencilled in to join the range in around April 2020 (slightly later than initially expected), offered in EX and EX+ guise, and with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.

While we sampled both the 1,6 EX+ automatic and the GT-Line during a drive in the Western Cape, we’ll focus on the former here (check out a full road test of the flagship model – which has also since joined our long-term fleet – in the upcoming March 2020 issue of CAR magazine).

The mid-spec derivative draws 90 kW and 151 N.m from its atmospheric heart, a familiar engine that also does duty in the petrol-powered versions of the outgoing Creta. With peak twisting force arriving at a fairly lofty 4 850 r/min, it predictably lacks the mid-range punch of the forced-induction unit in the GT-Line although gives away only 1,5 seconds in the obligatory sprint to three figures (according to Kia’s numbers). The torque-converter automatic, meanwhile, feels neatly calibrated to suit the engine’s easy-going character, allowing relaxed cruising at the national limit.

The engine's by no means the last word in brisk acceleration (something buyers at the Reef should, of course, bear in mind) but is certainly competent enough for the daily grind and has allowed Kia to implement a competitive pricing strategy towards the bottom and middle of the range.

Employing a multi-link rear suspension set-up, the Seltos rides with a touch more sophistication than the likes of the Creta, doing a soild job of ironing out road creases despite the EX+ model running on 17-inch alloys (for the record, there’s a full-size spare under the boot board). It handles predictably, too, while the driving position is suitably raised.

Space on the rear bench is particularly impressive (the 2 610 mm wheelbase certainly helps here), affording occupants oodles of leg- and headroom, and allowing the Seltos to best its more compact rivals. That said, the centrally seated passenger back there – admittedly a spot not always used – has to make do with a lap belt. And the front passenger pew may feel a touch high-sited for taller individuals.

Standard specification is generous across the range, with items such as six airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic headlamps, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, an eight-inch touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality) and a leather-clad steering wheel all included. The EX+ variant adds features such as electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, auto-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery and a centre console armrest. While the chunky gloss-black frame surrounding the touchscreen and instrument cluster might not be to everyone’s taste, the cabin feels a little more upmarket than the price-tag suggests.

Despite a slight overlap in pricing with the larger Sportage, the new Seltos seems very smartly positioned (pricing starts at R353 995). It’s a little late to the party but with distinctive exterior styling, high perceived cabin quality and a wide range of engine options once the diesel arrives (not to mention an unlimited kilometre/five-year warranty), it’s well placed to grab a healthy slice of the growing crossover pie. And it plugs what was the gaping hole between the Rio and Sportage in Kia’s local line-up, what with the Cerato and Soul no longer offered in South Africa.

Sure, it’s something of an “in-betweener” in terms of segment-standard exterior dimensions, but the new Seltos is handily sized for a small family, feeling compact and nimble enough to deal with the hustle of busy streets yet substantial and spacious enough to accommodate even lanky teenagers in the back. And that’ll certainly help set it apart as it jostles for attention in a sea of crossover-shaped rivals.

2020 Kia SELTOS 1.4T-GDI GT Line

R409,900
Ref No: 1766990

Latest Resutls for Kia SELTOS

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Normal, Eco, Sport / Snow, Mud, Sand
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • USB port: front + rear
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: LED
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 794 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 7
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automated dual-clutch
  • Front tyres: 225/60 R17
  • Reartyres: 225/60 R17
  • Length: 4315 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1800 mm
  • Height: 1620 mm
  • Wheel base: 2610 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 190 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.6 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 433 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1302-1398 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1755 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 550
  • Towing capacity - braked: 1100
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 50l
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.3 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 143g/km
  • Power maximum: 103 kW
  • Power maximum total: 103 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6000 r/min
  • Torque maximum: 242 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1500-3200 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 242 Nm
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 9.7s
  • Maximum top speed: 189 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1353 cc
  • Engine size: 1.4l
  • enginedetailshort: 1.4T
  • Engine + detail: 1.4 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): unlimited km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 5
  • Service plan time (distance): 90000 km
  • Roadside assistance time: 5
  • Brand: Kia
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 32157280
  • MMVariant: SELTOS 1.4T DCT GT-TINE
  • MMintrodat: 2019-11-07
  • Introdate: 2019-11-12
  • DuoportarecordID: KiaSelt1e4

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Kia SELTOS 1.4T-GDI GT Line for sale in Bloemfontein from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
Used SELTOS 1.4T-GDI GT Line availbale from the following auto dealer:
Imperial Select Bloemfontein used car dealership located in: Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa
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