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Date published: 19/03/2020
Category: Reviews
Tags: Seltos;SUV;KIA;T-GDi GT;EX;EX+
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KIA Seltos launched

We all know that one item of clothing that stays ever so popular, yet so impractical. One such item for me is the Converse All Star tekkies. Everyone seems to like them, except me. In summer they are oven hot and winter it feels like I am walking barefoot on ice. They are a lousy excuse for covering our feet, and one cannot even classify them as bedroom sleepers either.



February sees KIA South Africa penetrate a very tight B-segment SUV market with the recent launch of the Seltos. As a brand they have come a long way; 21 years in the market that went by quickly, and a chunky dealer network to ensure they remain accessible, while exponentially growing client confidence of their products. The Seltos is not a replacement model but an entirely new product. So popular is the newcomer that even before being launched nationally it was already selling like hot cakes off showroom floors. And, according SA brand CEO Gary Scott, the sales figures are on a bullish upward trend. At the launch I had first-hand experience why they are becoming so popular, but far more practical than the All Stars.



While some consumers may be on a buy-down trend, they do not wish to compromise on quality and creature comforts. The Seltos finds itself in a sweet spot that satisfies both consumer needs. Built in India, only the best quality grade plastics and materials were chosen, thus pushing it into the upper B-segment. And, like a nosy neighbour, it also leans over the fence challenging the lower C-segment. “It is aimed at the young, or young at heart buyer”, so says marketing manager, Christo Valentyn. That is evident in the 10-colour variety it comes out in, some of which are also in two-tone. The styling is crispy fresh, easy on the eye, with the upper models boasting more rugged like body protection. The sides have a chrome belt line, the front grille is bigger and wider, what KIA refers to as the tiger nose evolution. Daytime running lights come standard throughout the range.



Currently the following derivatives are available: EX, EX+ and the T-GDi GT, all petrol. Only the EX is offered with fabric seats. Inside the cabin, I was treated to a fresh blend of quality materials, user-friendly bells and whistles, and a sporty steering wheel. At the very centre of the cabin within easy reach is a large infotainment display. Connection to my mobile device was as simple as matching All Stars to any outfit. The instrument cluster is analogue, which I really like and information from the cockpit is processed quickly at a glance.

The 1.6 EX and EX+ are powered by a 1591cc naturally aspirated engine that delivers 90kW of power and 151Nm of torque. These two models are available in either manual or automatic transmissions.



A model that found a happy home in my heart was the 1.4 T GDi GT version, which is turbocharged. The smaller 1353 cc powerplant is perfectly mated to a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. The addition of the turbo in the GT range means it packs a meaner punch of 103kW and 242Nm, which makes it the more athletic sibling of the lot. Add to that is a drivetrain selector switch that caters for normal tarmac, snow, mud and gravel. I will forgive you if you at this stage think that some power is redirected to the rear wheels. There is nothing of the sorts, but a clever ECU that ensures correct power distribution to both front driving wheels. A diesel option will grace our shores later in the year in the entire product range.



I gained a lot of confidence (and respect) on the new KIA Seltos, especially in GT guise. The selectable drivetrain gives it a competitive edge against its rivals, as it is mainly the Renault Duster that comes out in 4x4. Others are just crossover clones riding on high heels. I see it becoming just as popular as All Stars, but with a more fulfilling and purposeful life. The city dweller who still reports to head office in the rurals will find value (and an added sense of confidence)in the Seltos. It will also appeal to weekend warriors who are normally confined to complex and duplex living during the week, but are actually adventure and adrenalin junkies.