A family-focused crossover
Family-focused SUVs and crossovers are growing in popularity. The Kia Seltos is perfectly placed to take advantage of the growth in this market segment.
Make no mistake, the all-new Kia Seltos is a very good and charming family car. It looks great, has enough convenience items and space to keep its occupants satisfied, is refined and very nice to drive, and sips fuel at a miserly rate. There is also no doubt that the 1.5CRDi is the most sensible engine for real-world usage, thanks to its refinement and strong torque delivery.
For most modern families, a compact SUV or crossover offers an unbeatable combination of practicality, space, and ease of driving.The Kia Seltos is a prime example of this car/wagon/cute-bakkie mix.
Within its model range, the Seltos diesel is arguably the best-balanced offering, with a frugal and torquey engine, a decent standard features list, good handling, and a reasonable cost of entry. As it were, the Seltos 1.5CRDi is the Goldilocks of its family: not too spartan inside, not too slow, and not too thirsty; good-looking enough to turn heads at the office car park, and comparatively well-priced to sweeten the deal.
There is no denying that the Seltos is a very good-looking car. Kia’s signature “Tiger Nose” front-end design language is very much in evidence. Horizontal design elements are used to emphasize its width and extend into the stylish “double-decker” headlamps, which use wrap-around LED DRL elements to create a distinctive visage. Further visual interest is generated by the knurled finish applied to the silver decorative strips that form the grille’s upper and lower edges.
The Kia Seltos is a really nice power unit, with a strong torque delivery as soon as the rev counter points to the north of 1 500 r/min, and it offers useful urge almost all the way through to its limiter at 4 500 r/min. Most importantly, the engine is generally very quiet in operation, and only reveals its fuel source briefly from a cold start. The clutch operation is equally easy to live with, thanks to low pedal pressure and a consistent take-up point.
In addition to its effortless power delivery, this diesel engine’s fat wedge of mid-range torque enables the driver to short shift, keeping the revs low to minimize fuel consumption and reduce noise levels in general driving. That smooth-shifting gear change also helps in this aspect, and enables reasonably rapid progress that is both unobtrusive and frugal.
Kia quotes an average consumption of only 5.1 l/100 km for the manual diesel Seltos, but a week’s worth of mixed-cycle driving without any particular effort to conserve fuel revealed a real-world average figure of 5.8 l/100 km. That is a highly commendable result for a vehicle of this size and weight, and really represents the upper limit of what buyers could expect in real-life usage.
Continuing the easy-driving theme, the Seltos offers a finely honed blend of comfort and control. The suspension is clearly tuned for a smooth ride. All the user interfaces are intuitively located, the leather-rimmed steering wheel is nice to hold, and the cloth-trimmed seats are contoured to cosset their occupants for long stretches at a time. Combine that with the smooth ride quality and well-contained overall noise levels, and the Kia Seltos becomes a companion you’d want in your life for many years to come.
As befits a family car, the Kia Seltos is endowed with a spacious cabin and plenty of usable boot space. There is enough room in the back to allow reasonably spacious accommodation for 3 average adults, with plenty of head- and legroom all round. The front pews have more than enough space for even beanpoles to stretch out in every direction, and the deep side glass makes for an airy atmosphere and good sightlines to the outside.
The luggage compartment can handle a middling 433 litres with all seats in use, and can be expanded via the split-folding rear seatback. Lifting the large boot floor out of the way reveals a full-sized spare wheel, which is a handy thing in a car that will most likely see plenty of long-distance travel.
The Kia Seltos sits on 16-inch alloy wheels, features manual air conditioning, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, electric side mirrors and windows (the latter, curiously, with one-touch functionality only when opening the driver’s window), remote central locking, auto-on headlights, and a colour touchscreen infotainment system with USB/Bluetooth functionality and full smartphone mirroring.
Standard equipment includes 6 airbags, ABS with brake assist, rear ISOFIX child seat anchors, rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera across the range.