Kia has been experiencing a bit of a Renaissance in recent years. It has pushed out a bunch of new products while updating some of its existing nameplates, and even changed its logo. The Seltos was one of Kia’s first new models at the start of this Renaissance back in 2019. It was envisioned to be an affordable compact crossover SUV for the middle class, and it quickly became one of the brand’s most popular offerings. And with good reason!
For starters, the Seltos is really good looking. As part of the so-called Kia Renaissance, it adopted a new design language that signalled a move toward a more digital, refined era. Some might miss the signature Tiger Nose design which was a Kia staple in the past. However, I welcome the new design language. It fits really well with the Seltos, and I remember gazing at it back in 2019 when my uncle bought one and being surprised at how good it looked. It was a big departure from what we’d come to expect from Kia in terms of design, but in the best way possible.
Turns out the Seltos isn’t just a pretty face though. It has some other good qualities to back up its good looks. When it was launched in 2019, Kia wanted to cover as much of the market as possible, and as a result, it offered a multitude of trim options, engines and powertrains. However, the one we sampled was the EX+ variant, which is available with a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine.
This Indian-made crossover hits many of the right notes when you drive it. This particular model has a power output of 86kW, which might sound a bit weak, but the torque figure of 250 Nm means that if you put your foot down, the Seltos goes. The six-speed gearbox is fairly responsive and there’s no hunting for the correct gear. The little diesel four-banger works best in its mid-range revs and tapers down at around 4000rpm, but there’s no need to rev it to that point.
The Seltos loves to be driven smoothly, and it rewards you with really frugal fuel consumption. Kia claims a figure of 5.7 litres/100km, and thanks to a 50-litre fuel tank the Seltos EX has a theoretical range of 877km. The real-life figure wasn’t that far off and we achieved 6.2 litres/100km in mixed driving conditions.
Apart from the responsive and frugal powerplant, the Seltos also offers great riding dynamics. It hits that sweet spot between ride quality and handling and behaved really well in the winding bits. well. It still feels like a larger car, so there’s a good amount of body roll, but it still offers good feedback that makes you feel comfortable and in control when heading down or up a brutal mountain pass.
The EX+ grade has a nice leather trim, electrically folding side mirrors, as well as a central armrest with a storage bin. It also offers electronic stability control (ESC) and hill-start assist. And like all Seltos derivatives, the EX+ has six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, as well as rear parking sensors and a reverse view camera.
The Seltos has an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system that offers Apple Carplay and Android Auto and can be operated via a multifunctional steering wheel. The EX+ also has air-conditioning, automatic headlight control, cloth upholstery, electric windows and cruise control as part of the standard package.
The Seltos has a great looking cockpit. The EX+ has leathertrimmed seats that give it a more refined feel and complement the big dashboard layout and the piano black finish. In conclusion, the Seltos is a great example of what the future holds for Kia. It’s an attractive, affordable and practical option in the crossover landscape. It offers great performance on tar, but it’s still enough of an SUV to confidently tackle the roads less travelled.
*Price: Kia Seltos 1.5 CRDI+: R474 995. The model range includes five variants, priced from R408 995.