'Trending' is the new buzz word and car manufacturers know all about this. No wonder, those who are already in the business are aligning themselves to be better equipped to tackle these trends, however, the new entrants are jumping straight into it. Kia Motors India is one of them and it's wasted no time in getting straight into the business of making cars that will cater to each and every kind of customer. The Seltos compact SUV will be the company's first car in the market and it has spared no expense in giving Indian customers what they love best - choices.
Variants And Features
The Kia Seltos offers plenty and it all starts with the variants on offer. Kia will offer the Seltos in five variants- E, K, K+, X and X+. Interestingly, the Seltos will be well equipped right from the base variant and will get features like Voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, Follow me home headlamps, Tilt and telescopic steering adjust, steering mounted audio controls, ABS + EBD and 2 airbags as standard. In addition to these features, the TK trim will get features like LED DRLs, cruise control, smart push engine start-stop system and electric foldable mirrors. The X variant will be a connected car and will be equipped with the UVO connected car tech. It will also get additional features like LED headlamps and fog lamps, rear reclining seats, 10.25-inch touchscreen, ambient lighting, tyre pressure monitoring, USB fast charging and 17 inch alloy wheels. In addition to these features, the top notch X+ variant will get Solar UV glass, eight way power adjustable seat, 7-inch MID display, Bose 8 Speakers, 360 degree camera view, driver rear view monitor, ventilated seats, wireless charging, Electric sunroof, Rain sensing wipers, 6 airbags, Brake Assist, Hill Assist, ESC, VSM, front parking sensors, multi drive modes and blind view monitor.
Also Read: Kia Seltos India Launch Date Out
One look at all of that and you'll understand that the feature offerings are plenty and you have to tip your hat to Kia for making that a possibility. You do wonder though, is it too much? Then again, it's always better than offering too little right? So Kia Motors India has put everything one might think of in the Seltos, and that's certainly one way of making sure that the Compact SUV is a success in the country. It's Kia's first vehicle ever in India, and it will set the precedence for things to come.
There's a big choice when it comes to engine options too and I got a chance to sample each and every powertrain at the company's facility in Anantapur. We were given the cars for 10 minutes around a small 3 kilometre track and were told specifically that these cars were just prototypes and not the production versions so yes, a fair amount of tweaks will be done before the production model rolls off the assembly line. This drive then, gave us a sense of what the Seltos has and what's missing. On the engine front, as I said earlier, there's a lot of choice, 2 petrol and 1 diesel - a 1.4-litre and 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel and all the engines get the option of a manual and an automatic. So there's a CVT, a DCT and a Torque convertor auto box on offer. All the engines, at the time of launch will be BS6 compliant. So, the only thing left to do then was to find the car and try and get a sense of all these options in the limited time we had.
1.4-litre GDi Petrol
The first car I chose to get into was the 1.4-litre GDi, an engine that is the most powerful of them all. In the Seltos the engine is tuned to make 138 bhp. There's a good amount of torque of offer too at 242 Nm. For starters, the engine is very silent and there's a fair bit of pull right from lower rpms and that's a sign that it's a good city creature. I started out with the manual transmission option and though the clutch is light, it has a fair bit of travel, so if you're stuck in traffic, you get a good workout for your calf muscles. Kia claims that the Seltos with this petrol engine can do a 0-100 kmph sprint in 9.7 seconds and yes it sprints pretty well too. There is a bit of lag in power and anything under 1750 rpm needs a little waiting but the engine has a good mid-range. The suspension though was on the softer side and there was a fair bit of movement in the cabin, as we drove over some of the bumps on the simulated track and it gave us a fair idea about the suspension travel too. The travel on the petrol manual was more than the 1.4 petrol automatic and that did come as a surprise. There are however, driving modes to choose from - normal, eco and sport. These modes change the steering and engine responses but do not change the settings of the suspension. It is difficult though to toggle between these modes and that's because the usual way to do it is roll the dial and then press to select but here, you just turn the dial and you place it on the selection, and this takes some time to adjust to.
We sadly did not have much time with the car but when we get to drive it in August, there will be more to tell. The 6-speed automatic really does have a balanced suspension setup and the travel too is lesser. The 6-speed DCT on this this one revs right up to 6500 rpm and doesn't hesitate as much to translate the power provided, to action. There is a slight delay, yes, but it's a blink and a miss and you really enjoy driving the car. Now Kia Motors India claims that the Seltos with the 1.4-litre GDi with the manual transmission returns fuel economy figures of 16.1 kmpl, while the automatic puts out 16.2 kmpl and that's very interesting indeed. What we expected here was a bit of steering feel, which you really do not get. In sports mode too, there's pretty much nothing and that is visible throughout the engine line-up.
The 1.5-litre petrol will be the one which will be priced attractively and it will be the car to spearhead the company's ambitions in the country. The Seltos with the 1.5-litre petrol engine puts out 113 bhp and immediately, you realise the lack of power, especially after you've driven the 1.4-litre version. 0-100 kmph is done in 11.8 seconds but all these figures do not point out to it being slow. The power is enough and yes the clutch yet again is lighter and Kia has been able to achieve this thanks to the integrated clutch cylinder configuration which improves the clutch durability and reduces the force, making it easy to drive. The 144 Nm torque also helps in giving you power at the low end of the curve which is good enough for city conditions especially stop/start traffic. It might make for a good highway cruiser too especially the one with the CVT option. The automatic transmission suffers from the rubber band effect and hence there's a definite lag when it comes to power delivery and you have to wait till the gears slot in and you move ahead which is a big change from the DCT. But you understand, that this one was not meant to be sporty, rather frugal and a sensible package and that's exactly how it works. It sticks to the brief and caters to that part of the audience which needs to go from Point A to Point B every day without worrying about fuel economy. And that's the brief for even the diesel car
Fuel economy figures on the diesel stand at 17.8 kmpl for the automatic (torque convertor) and 20.8 kmpl for the diesel and that's coming from a car that puts out 113 bhp and 250 Nm. So there's good amount of power and torque and those mileage figures really make you want to bob your head in appreciation. Achieving a figure above 20 kmpl is no child's play and Kia has managed to do it. Let's talk about the manual transmission option first. Kia has hit the nail on the head with this option. It's got the punch, it's got the power and it's good on drivability too. The gears slot in well and it's a treat to drive too. The torque kicks in at a lower rpm of 1500 and stays with you till about 3500 - 4000 rpm; so there's enough meat for you to chew on. 0-100 kmph is done in 11.5 seconds and those timings are pretty much in the territory of a diesel premium hatchback and that's when you realise how well this compact SUV has been packaged. The 6-speed torque convertor works well too and yes, you have the option to go in for the automatic, though the gears play catch up every time you floor the accelerator. You really are left wanting for more power with the auto box and you wish it was better in sync. The NVH levels have been well managed too but just beyond 4500 rpm the noise seeps in and there's a rumble of the diesel engine that you hear. It's like that lizard which hides behind your cupboard, you think there's nothing there, till you actually hear it squeak or click.
Kia Motors India has also introduced 3 traction modes on the Seltos Compact SUV - Mud, Snow/Wet, and Sand. There wasn't enough time to check these out of course and there weren't any other terrains we could check these out on so we'll leave it for another day.
There's no doubt it's attractive looking and Kia's design team has made sure that certain elements from the SP Concept (showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo) are carried forward to the production version. It gets the brand's signature Tiger Nose grille with chrome surrounds, flanked by inverted L-shaped LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights. The muscle is added by the bumpers and the flared wheel arches. A set of ice cube LED DRLs with chrome bezels give the Seltos a signature look and a wide central airdam, and silver skid plate add more premiumness to it all. The top-end model will also get a set of new diamond cut 17-inch alloy wheels, with the shark-fin antenna and silver roof rails. The rear features a pair of sharp-looking LED taillamps and a beefy rear bumper with brushed silver styling element and a large diffuser.
The cabin is pretty roomy too. There's good enough room at the front and rear. The rear in fact gets good knee and head room and Kia even offers it with a two stage reclining function which adds to the comfort of rear seat passengers. The seats themselves are pretty good too but the addition of some side support for the thighs and even the back would have made it better. You also get a massive head up display, which gives you all the information you want, right from navigation to rpm levels to of course the speed and yes, you can adjust the HUD to your liking with a touch of a button on the infotainment system.
As far as safety is concerned, the Kia Seltos offers a full range safety which includes, active, passive, health safety, security and maintenance. The Seltos gets 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, HAC, VSM and is built using advanced high strength steel (AHSS). It comes standard with 2 Airbags, ABS with EBD Additionally it gets front and rear parking sensors and blind view monitor. Working in tandem with the safety tech, the Seltos comes equipped with an array of advanced UVO connected car technology features. The UVO technology can be summoned via a dedicated button on the IRVM. The IRVM also has dedicated roadside assistance and SOS button that alert the dedicated call centre- in case of an emergency. It also gets rain sensing wipers and auto headlamps.
This is the section where we usually give our verdict about the product, but this time it's a bit different. We drove a near production version and that means there will be a few more tweaks done before the production model is out and so we'll keep our verdict for another day. But be rest assured, it's a product which means it has had all the time in the world to see what works and what doesn't. There's no doubt that the Kia Seltos will set a few benchmarks in the compact SUV segment and will make some established players rethink some of their strategies. We can't wait for Kia's plans to unfold.