The KIA Seltos - change is in the air
By now every youtube channel has screamed hoarse on their experience with the KIA Seltos the first SUV introduced by KIA in India. This is the first car rolling out of the KIA factory in Andhra Pradesh and a many of firsts for KIA as a brand in India.
They are entering the country when the market is heated up and the automobile manufacturers are suffering to sell cars. At a time when customer sentiment for buying is very weak. At a time when each car model looks obsolete within months. They have had many things going against them during the time of entry itself. Like the fact they had to even conform to changing emission requirements of the Bharat Stage 6.
The MG hector made quite a splash and according to some data available, they are having a waiting period of over 6 months and have temporarily stopped bookings owing to good request numbers. This is a good news for any auto manufacturer to have during this downturn. KIA has brought in the Seltos to compete against the many contenders in this segment including the good old XUVScorpio, MG Hector, Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass, Renault Duster/Captur and more.
While the Tata Harrier is struggling to sell without an automatic version, the Jeep has sold enough and its novelty is wearing off. These two vehicles are big and capable but are seen as off-roaders. Creta remains the undisputed champion of sales owing to it being a worthy contender to Duster and the likes of SUVs and it being introduced much earlier to the KIA. However even the refresh of Creta is not being enough to generate buzz in the market and Creta’s price and the fact its novelty is wearing off would pose a threat to its sales in the long run. The areas like service are those where companies like Tata, Hyundai, Mahindra and Maruti will do well owing to its many service centres and availability of quick response times and parts for the vehicles sold so far.
So the industry badly needed some fresh new vehicles, with pleasing looks, reasonably powerful engines, customisability, range of features as opposed to just segment first ones, needless to say leverage on the good service network if available, conformance to new emission norms to avoid bringing in a vehicle that was dead on arrival and an overall sense of belonging to the customer who would put down his or her money on the car. Enter KIA with the Seltos.
Though the advertisement campaign about being badass and having a meerkat was a lousy start by KIA, thankfully the vehicle itself has much going for it which you will read about down below. This goes to show that when the product speaks for itself, there is no need to add a gimmicky marketing campaign for it.
Look and feel
Like we always think and talk about, the looks for any vehicle is subjective and whether or not its good lies in the eyes of the beholder. That said being overly boxy like the Lodgy, or the Evalia if you remember such a vehicle existed in the market would be an obvious target for bad mouthing. Customers expect a stance that is at least near to being an SUV (height, macho looks, bulging wheel arches, claddings to show pedigree, roof rails, and curved and straight line elements that form a fusion to make the vehicle look good overall). The good part is the Seltos achieves this with reasonable ease and it will not be wrong to say that the design really catches the eye.
It is impossible to fault this vehicle for what it offers and it is pleasing to see it from any angle. The closest anyone else gets in terms of looks to this which is drool worthy is Fiat with the designs. For example the Linea looks relevant even today. It is all about freshness of design. The KIA delivers very well in that department. The minute attention to details is what makes this vehicle exemplary and no matter which version you choose there is something great in each.
The bonnet is high, the doors are heavy and there is an overall aura of the Seltos being a stable car. Yes, reassuring door thud included. The grill, the headlamps be it LED or halogen, the fog lamps each lend to its overall front looks which is extremely pleasing to the eye. You need to see it in flesh to understand what I mean and photos will do only that much justice!
As for the alloys, I would have personally preferred the BRV style design, or at least something rather than the boring 5 spoke ones. When the company is so good with designing almost everything perfectly even one miss matters. But having said that the alloys and tyres are robust and that is what eventually matters on the road.
The lower version gets 205/65 16 inchers while the higher version gets 17” wheels.
Rear & Boot
The rear is simple yet elegant and is almost EcoSportish with bigger tail lamps though. The chrome strip running in between adds extra flair to the car. To keep it simple about the boot space, it can swallow a lot of items and be rest assured it can cater to all your workload needs. If you know the Duster boot well, its similar here.
The interiors for a vehicle really determine whether the sales continue or not these days and a bland interior just would not work with customers anymore. The Duster through its many years of existence was never going to have great interiors because elsewhere in the world it is an off-roader and not that cushy SUV for city travel. It requires ground up design to think and execute great interiors and this is exactly where KIA scores very high marks.
The steering is circular in lower versions and D-Shaped (like Toyota Etios) on higher versions. The 10.2 inch display and stereo system blows everything else out of the water. It is like working on a fixed iPad in the car. The 7” colour display cluster behind your steering itself is a leap in tech and it shows a lot of things like door status, fuel info, and many other as well.
Storage and gears/pedals
The storage bins in the car are large, especially the one below driver handrest, you can hide 4-5 mobiles or 5 wallets in there. The handrest itself is well laid out - everything looks and feels like a 20 lac car. That said, the steering on the higher version is leather wrapped and so is the gear knob.
The clutch was hard to operate when engine was not on, but I am yet to figure the reality in a test drive effort later on
They look so plush and the 10.2 inch system complements that very well and does not stick out like a sore thumb as in the EcoSport for example.
There are also the 8 speaker Bose system which is a first in this segment. The side buttons for windows and doors are a bit clumsy and feel like low grade plastic. The whole dashboard layout, the system and its buttons and the buttons on the steering - everything exude luxury in the higher variants.
The navigation system is so huge and so well implemented it gives a multitude of information on the screen. It is so good to see as such and will be a delight to use as well.
I love vehicles that give me white seats with perforation. They just look grand and gives you a feel of buying a very luxurious car. KIA has done exactly that with their higher versions and no one will be complaining. This seating alone is enough for people to lap the car up.
The lower version gets dull finish fabric seats which are not too bad either frankly. While the front seats are bolstered and feel very safe, the rear seats are best for two people, the middle passenger if included will have to sit a bit uncomfortably and if he is like me at 5’10” it will not be easy for longer drives. At best someone short or a kid can fit in there well. This is the only gripe or nitpicking I can do about the Seltos so far.
KIA has provided so many engine options and variant options with different sets of features which will make it an exciting buy for anyone looking for something that fits their budget.
There are basically three engine options
- 1.5 petrol churning 115 bhp, 114Nm torque
- 1.4 turbo charged petrol churning 140 bhp and a whopping 242 Nm torque
- And a 1.5 Diesel engine churning 115 bhp and 250 Nm torque.
You must note that each of these engines further are mated either to a manual or automatic transmissions and under auto there is the dual clutch DCT and the torque converter models as well.
The Seltos comes in Clear white and Glacier white, Silver, Grey and Black, and Red, Blue and Orange. This with and without dual tone options as well. And metallic and non metallic as well.
Variants with respect to features
There are 3 variants in tech line the E, K and X and two in the GT line, the K and X for now. There are also the normal and the plus versions with few features extra in each version. I will include a link to the feature list PDF here in this post later, but what you need to observe is the sheer level of combinations of features, engines that Kia is offering which allows them to play in a wide range of price brackets to cater to all audiences.
If you are on low budget the HTE is for you, if you are on high budget the HTX is for you. The plus is really if you want the additionals or not.
HT Base version
The base version still comes with 2 airbags, ABS and EBD, front and rear disc brakes, projector head lamps and rear AC vents. It loses out on the auto climate control, and other higher end features such as infotainment system which is advanced. It comes with basic system with 4 speakers still and will satisfy average car buyer without having the need to invest more.
HT Mid Version
The HTK comes additionally with rheostat, 8 inch system, with rear cam, 6 speakers with the system among other things such as external mirror electric adjust etc. The plus version to the mid version includes 16” alloys, LED DRLs, push button start, cruise control, sunshade, rear wiper, washer etc. Besides it also has folding side view mirrors
HT High end version
The high end version is where all the meat is. 17” alloys, LED all lamps (front, fog, drl, rear) , 10.2 inch system with navigation, air purifier integrated with arm rest, antiglare rear view mirror, leatherette seats and auto AC among other things. The plus version to this gives you sunroof, ventilated front seats, power driver seat, Bose 8 speaker system, and a wireless charger among other things.
Coming to the GT line, there are two versions currently with the space open for a lower GTE version maybe in future.
For the GTK version - you get everything that is in the HTX
For the GTX version you get curtain airbags, ESP, hill hold, vehicle stability, brake assist, multi drive modes and multi traction modes, and a 8 inch heads up display right above your steering which all exude sportiness quotient even more. Clearly the GTX is targeted for high end buyers.
In addition the GTX plus version gives you blind view monitor in 7 inch cluster display and a 360 degree camera.
With so many variants and features offered, in addtion to a pleasing look, confidence inspiring and safety oriented design, an eye for detail on the interiors, a separate sport line with turbo engines and matching interior features and tech KIA has sought to play to everyone’s attention and needs.
Without compromising basic safety, but with variants all over the Range other manufacturers will now be forced to offer more, or cut costs either way prompting them to accept defeat. What then matters now for KIA is only how good their service network can be and how much attention they pay to the customer woes.
A final word on pricing. Official pricing will be out on August 22nd, but rumour has it that the ex showroom costs could vary between 10 and 17 lacs which when included with other costs would put it between 12.5 to 19.5 lacs in Bengaluru as the on road cost. This is sure to rattle every other manufacturer. But for KIA motors, Hyundai’s plan B will bring it the much needed boost in India.
I am yet to take test drive of this vehicle if time permits tomorrow so I will update that in a separate post.