A compact SUV that's slightly smaller than the Sportage, the Kia Seltos is the South Korean manufacturer's second best-selling vehicle in Australia.
With 9966 units sold in 2021, this small SUV has enjoyed rapidly expanding sales since its introduction in 2019. So, why did more than 9,000 Australians decide that the Seltos was the best option? Here we take a look at what this SUV has to offer, as well as consider some other options.
The Seltos was only introduced into the Kia lineup in 2019, which is probably why, aside from a fairly minor exterior makeover, little has changed from 2021. Features that make the Seltos stand out from the crowd include:
- A driver's 8" head-up display and 7" supervision instrument cluster.
- LED headlights (in the GT-line).
- Ventilated and heated front seats (GT-line).
Exterior and Interior
The Seltos exudes a cheerful, urban vibe that's hard not to like. The tiger-nose grille and hood, coupled with some attractive curves and alloys are enough to give an inoffensive, upbeat impression.
Inside, a skilful layout results in a considerable amount of space. The Seltos also has a good-sized boot - 433l (1393l with rear seats down). The interior is practical rather than luxurious - materials are middle-of-the-range and even the top-spec GL-line only cloth or Sofino (synthetic leather) upholstery choices.
Drivers can choose between a 2.0l multipoint injection petrol engine (110kW/180Nm of torque) or a 1.6l turbo GDI petrol engine that offers 130kw/265Nm of torque. The 2.0l is teamed with a CVT; the turbo pairs with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and AWD.
Fuel efficiency is quoted as 6.8l/100km for the 2.0l and 7.6l/100km for the turbo. If drivers opt for eco mode (rather than normal or sport mode), it's possible to squeeze out a few more kilometres/litre.
The Seltos has an Australian-tuned suspension, which is perhaps one of the reasons reviewers praise its performance. Described as comfortable, smooth and quiet, if you want a low-effort, family-orientated drive, the Seltos works really well.
Overall the Seltos has a good level of tech, but drivers have to buy one of the more expensive specs to benefit from it. The basic S boasts little more than an 8" infotainment screen with wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto capabilities, an unspecified sound system and Bluetooth. Even a basic such as an electric hand brake isn't provided until drivers purchase the additional safety pack.
At the other end of the range, the GT includes a 10.25" infotainment screen (with wired Apply Carplay and Android Auto), a Bose sound system, sound mood lighting, wireless charging, keyless locking and a variety of other features.
The Seltos benefits from a 5-star ANCAP rating. All specs have a good range of passive safety features, including airbags, child-proof rear locks, impact beams and an impact sensing unlocking mechanism.
When it comes to active tech, it's important to note that the basic S doesn't have a full suite of features - drivers need to buy the additional safety pack upgrade to get features such as autonomous emergency braking (junction assist), the forward warning collision system and the driver attention alert. Overall, the active safety suite is comprehensive, but the omission of key features from the basic S spec is of concern.
A base-spec Seltos S FWD costs around $27,290. The highest spec, a Seltos GT-line, will cost around $42,700.
Pros and Cons
- Smooth driving experience.
- Plenty of tech and features in the more expensive variants.
- Spacious in the back.
- Large boot.
- Not particularly fuel-efficient.
- Reduced safety features in the base spec.
The Kia Seltos is a good all-rounder that comes in for particular praise for its smooth, comfortable drive and impressive set of features. This is one of the more spacious compact SUVs - a skilfully laid out interior ensures plenty of space in the rear row and boot. The inclusion of rear air vents (which are bafflingly absent in some competitors), along with a good amount of legroom means rear passengers can be carried in comfort.
The main problem with the Seltos is that the vast majority of the good stuff is only available in the higher specs - the notable omission of some safety features from the basic S is off-putting and feels unnecessarily stingy.
In conclusion, the Seltos is a good, solid SUV, but it may not offer the great value that some of its competitors do.
Other Options to Consider
In many ways, the Hyundai Kona is very similar to the Seltos. Although Kia and Hyundai are separate manufacturers, Hyundai is Kia's parent company. This means that many Hyundai and Kai models share parts and tech. In terms of the things that matter, both Seltos and Kona are safe, practical SUVs.
The Kona is slightly smaller inside and lacks the rear air vents that can make all the difference to second-row passengers. Reviewers are also more positive about the Seltos' driving performance than they are about the Kona's.
If cost is a consideration, the base-spec Kona is around $29,940 in comparison to the Seltos at $27,290. It's debatable whether you get an extra $2,500 of value from the Kona.
If you want something a little more upmarket, the HR-V could be a better option than the Seltos.
It's only available in two variants - the ViX and the hybrid e: HEV L. For drivers who feel the future is electric, the hybrid is a logical purchase. The HR-V incorporates Honda's "magic" back seats, which fold down and flip to provide a large amount of usable boot space if required.
Other features include keyless entry, LED headlights and a hands-free tailgate. Although the starting price for an HR-V ViX is $36,700, it's far better equipped than a base-spec Seltos.
For drivers who like an upmarket feel to their motoring, as well as something tasty under the bonnet, the CX-30 fits the bill.
Smooth, elegant lines and a luxurious interior that is edging into prestige territory - there's even the option of real leather upholstery - a rarity in the compact SUV class), the CX-30's 2.5l naturally-aspirated engine, combined with Mazda's exceptional handling, result in an engaging driving experience. Front seats have been carefully engineered for optimal comfort and support, even on longer drives.
Admittedly second-row passengers are left a little short on space (although do benefit from rear air vents) and the boot has an underwhelming 317l capacity, but if you're looking for a performance-rated SUV that looks stunning, the CX-30 stands out.