Kia is a Korean brand that has had incredible success world over for beautifully designed products for the mass consumer automobile market. What many people aren’t aware of that, while it looks eerily like every Kia products ever made is to take a direct shot at any from Hyundai’s portfolio, another fellow Korean automaker that is now something of a giant in the industry, that Kia is in fact its sister company and under the umbrella of the Hyundai Motor Company, and the fact that they’ve both placed products time and again in a global view that are cut-throat rivals, you know they can afford to because the money goes in one pocket after all and because Kia and Hyundai also have shared R&D.
Kia brings new fire to the flaming segment…
But that is all about it, apart from that both are allowed to function independently and their rivalry is sweet. Kia has now entered the Indian market, which Hyundai has a very good hold on for all these years ever since they came here with the Santro. Kia Seltos is going to be their first product for India as it takes on the sub-compact SUV segment which is showing rapid growth in the overall decline of the industry and is also the segment where the class leading Hyundai Creta dominates and has also seen record bookings for the new MG Hector and also a strong contention from the Tata Harrier with the Jeep Compass taking the premium side of things to itself. Can Kia make an impact and stay for the long run with the Seltos or will things get hard for them?
On the face of it, the Kia Seltos is one very good looking car which is a fresh breath in the market, it doesn’t try to be excessively massive, like the Harrier and Hector but isn’t very small either to be pushed to the compact SUV segment like the Ford EcoSport. In fact it’s slightly bigger than its biggest rival, the Hyundai Creta and sits a bit lower than it. The car is however not very curvy like the Renault Captur and Nissan Kicks and has straight upright pillars and quite a vertical stance but isn’t very boxy either, hitting just the right spot of having good presence but also not look obnoxious. The fascia has large, sleek and long headlamps that are equipped with LED lighting and indicators with the ice cube fog lamps on the bottom that give it a nice premium touch, the DRL runs all the way from the headlamps to the center of the bonnet line above the grille that makes it quite a unique design and something that sets it apart are quite noticeable even from some distance.
It also gets the signature Tiger Nose grille and has a lot of chrome going around the grille and for detailing making it look premium and different from the rest of the competition. The rear is also pleasant looking with a massive chrome strip running on the boot door connecting the LED tail-lamps.However if you opt for the the GT-line trim of the Kia Seltos, it gets red accents across the exterior, starting with a GT-line badge on the grille and red accent on the bumper and the side skirts and the rear bumper along with red calipers on the brakes which give it a more sporty appeal. On the inside the car is a pleasant surprise. The fit and finish of the car is quite premium and much much better than its rivals and on par with cars from a segment above which is great. The seats are comfortable and the use of leather is seen throughout from the seats to the steering and the dashboard is also made of very good quality soft touch plastic which feels great to touch.
The base Tech-line car gets a black on beige trim for the interiors whereas the more expensive GT-line goes for an all black treatment with red stitching that accentuates the sporty look of the exterior. The car also gets a lot of options with the number of variants that available in both the trims. While the base variants get a 2-DIN audio system setup, the midline variants get an 8.0inch touch display for infotainment duties and the top of the line variants are equipped with an even bigger 10.25inch display which offers split screen mode too which is something new. On the top line variant in the Tech-line trim, the instrument cluster gets a 7.0inch display that shows turn by turn navigation apart from other vehicle information and on the top line GT-variant, there is a retractable HUD display that handles that job which is a nice touch and brings a new host of features to this segment. The car is spacious and while it won’t be as large on space as the much bigger Harrier and Hector, it is up on the Creta, Captur and Kicks. It also gets ventilated seats, Bose sound system, parking sensors, ambient lighting, wireless phone charging and other features on the higher variants in both the trims.
The Kia Seltos gets 3 powertrains options — a 1.5L naturally aspirated 4 cylinder petrol engine that produces about 113.4 brake horses and a peak torque of 144Nm , a 1.5L 4 cylinder diesel engine that also produces an identical 113.4 brake horses but about 250Nm of torque and a 1.4L 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that makes 138 brake horses and a torque of 242Nm but is exclusive to the GT-line only to go in line with the sportier focus of that car. All the engines are mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox as standard but get 3 different transmissions for the automatic option. While the NA 1.5L gets a CVT automatic gearbox, the diesel 1.5L gets a 6 speed torque converter automatic and the 1.4L turbo engine gets a more focused 7 speed DCT gearbox.
On paper the Kia Seltos is a great choice for anyone who wants something fresh from the segment and will be pleased for the array of options available in the car with the entire lineup ranging from as low as 9.98lac INR ex-showroom and all the way to 17.34lac INR exshowroom, there are a total of 18 variants available in total for the Kia Seltos each priced in a bracket between the price range above meaning there is a Seltos for everyone in between this price range giving it a strong position in the market and a real chance to turn the tables around while there is still quite some time before the new Hyundai Creta comes around and the Hector and Harrier struggle with their more expensive pricing and negligible competition from the likes of Renault and Nissan.