26 September 2023

Polishing A Little Gem

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By Paul Gover.

There was nothing wrong with the Kia Seltos but that has not stopped the South Korean maker giving it a tidy and tickle.

The looks are a bit sharper, there are classy alloy wheels, the powertrain choices have been improved, and there is more equipment covering comfort and safety.

Pricing from $29,500 is what’s expected in the class, where the Seltos sits between the Stonic and Sportage at Kia and lines up against everything from the Ford Puma and Hyundai Venue to the Nissan Qashqai.

The Seltos is not a big family SUV, sitting closer in size to the Subaru Crosstrek but with a very different approach.

The Kia is more sporty in its ride and handling, it gets the full-sized spare missing from the Subaru, but is not – yet, anyway – available as a hybrid.

So it’s for young 2+2 families and getaway couples, with a choice of engines including a tweaked 1.6-litre turbo four with 12 per cent more power and an eight-speed auto with all-wheel drive.

My test car, a GT with 2-litre normally-aspirated engine and CVT transmission is adequate but not outstanding. Power at 110 kiloWatts is fine, but it would be better with more than 180 Newton-metres of torque.

What is outstanding, for anything in this size and class, is the sporty feel to the suspension. The Seltos is definitely a choice for people who like to drive.

But there is a downside – and it’s affecting everything in the Kia and Hyundai line-ups, since they share all back-end development work.

It’s the hugely annoying range of new driver aids, including everything from a speed warning to a low tyre-pressure alert.

During my time with the Seltos it was ‘binging’ and ‘bonging’ almost endlessly, and for no good reason. Switching off the speed alert, which triggers barely over the limit – without allowing for speedo error – is hugely annoying, particularly when you’re in a 40km/h school zone at 10pm.

As for the tyre alert, it was also an endless annoyance even when the dashboard showed the pressures were fine.

Apparently the assistance package has been developed and tweaked for European countries – not Australia.

But the suspension is more great work by the team under Graeme Gambold, the Seltos stops well and has the necessary assistance systems for a 5-star ANCAP rating.

It would have been more fun to try the 1.6-litre engine, but it’s probably also a luxury for buyers who want the Sport+ luxury grade or the all-wheel drive system.


Position: small SUV

Price: from $27,990

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol

Power: 110kW/180Nm

Transmission: CVT auto, front-wheel drive

Plus: stylish, good driving

Minus: CVT auto, intrusive safety tech

THE TICK: one of the class leaders

Score: 8.5/10

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