2023 Kia Seltos review: Late to the party but brings the ‘sport’ to mid-sized SUVs – Times of India

2023 Kia Seltos review: Late to the party but brings the ‘sport’ to mid-sized SUVs - Times of India

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Kia entered India in 2019 with the Seltos and has seen runaway success with the SUV and as a carmaker in the country since. Often regarded as a premium brand, Kia vehicles were well received and the company has quickly grown its portfolio to five models ranging between affordable compact SUVs to high-end electric vehicles such as the EV6. In India, Kia’s first offering was the Seltos and it is still the breadwinner, contributing to 55 percent sales for the brand. Which is why it was odd that for the past couple of years, the Seltos had started to look dated in front of the Hyundai Creta, which was better packaged with its panoramic sunroof, high-resolution infotainment screen and more. However, Kia nipped that bud on July 4, when the brand unveiled the second generation of the Seltos and we recently got the chance to drive it in Nagpur. Here’s everything that has now changed in the Kia SUV which has already crossed the 5 lakh sales milestone.

2023 Kia Seltos Review: Does it put the ‘sport’ in SUV? | TOI Auto

Facelifted design at the right spots:
The Kia Seltos remains largely the same in terms of its design but the fresh changes make it look much more aggressive than before. The SUV is divided between three design trims, called the Tech-line, GT-line and the X-line. The changes that are standard across these trims are the redesigned LED headlamps with the all new design for the LED DRLs that are integrated in the headlamp units and also extend into the centre grille, adding a bit of extra bling to the front end. Everything is wrapped nicely on the front with the redesigned tiger nose grille that gets a premium looking chrome finish surround. The taillamps of the Seltos have also been redesigned and are now co-joined via a light bar that runs across the tailgate. The lighting elements look very modern due to the patterned LED elements that have been used and the Seltos now also gets sequential indicators all-around.

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Apart from the lighting provisions, Kia has taken significant effort to differentiate the Tech-line from the GT-line, starting with the design for the bumpers. The GT-line and X-line Seltos now gets a more aggressive design for the front and rear bumpers with body coloured plastic inserts that house the ice-cube shaped LED fog lamps, it also gets a sharp and angular scuff plate that adds to the SUV’s mean appearance. The rear bumper design is equally exciting now with similar body coloured inserts that house the reverse lamps alongside a piano black element, The aggressive scuff plate continues at the back and everything comes together nicely with the stainless steel finished, hexagonal dual exhaust tips, that make it look really sporty.

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The Tech-line’s bumper design is however more closer to the older Seltos which is not a bad thing for buyers. This way the lower and higher trims are distinct from each other and that would bode well with customers who are shelling out more than Rs 8 lakhs over the base trim. On the side profile not much has changed which is nothing to complain about, the distinction between trims takes place between the 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels of the Tech-line and the 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that the GT-line and above get. Designs for both wheel sizes are sharp and very modern.
A cabin worthy of the Kia badge:
After having the same cabin since 2019, the Seltos cabin was probably the biggest element that had started to make the product look dated when compared to its competitors. However, the new cabin of the Seltos is likely to make existing owners highly jealous and may even encourage some to upgrade while new buyers would get instant bragging rights. As expected, the high-quality in the interior has been retained but it has been brought into 2023 with significant upgrades in equipment. The first big change that one notices right away are the new dual 10.25-inch screens that are housed in a single glass housing. The resolution of the screens is crisp and identical on both sides, which adds to the sense of premiumness when compared to some other dual-screen cars we have driven earlier. The next big change is the arrival of a panoramic sunroof, a feature that international markets such as Australia do not get. The upholstery is redone, it still gets the ventilated front seats and now Kia has also added the convenience of dual-zone climate control.

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Just like the exterior, the cabin of the Seltos is different based on the variant, the lower variants gets an all black interior with black upholstery for the seats, there mid-variants get a black and brown theme and the top-end variants get an all-black interior with premium seat upholstery finished in black and white. The GT-line that we drove also came with a very well finished flat-bottom steering wheel with white contrast stitching.
Overall, in terms of tech, the GT-line comes loaded with a 360-degree camera, a smart air-purifier, wireless charger with cooling function, an 8-speaker Bose audio system and a lot more.
A better driver than before:
The GT-line we drove of the Seltos, had the top-end 1.5-litre T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine, which now delivers a higher 158 hp and 253 Nm of torque. It also comes with a butter smooth 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, moreover, customers also get the option to get the turbo petrol with a 6-speed manual transmission, something that a lot of driving enthusiasts would appreciate. With the DCT, the turbocharged Seltos can do a 0-100 kmph sprint in just 8.9 seconds while giving you ample feedback and a push into the seats. Across the highways and country roads of Maharashtra, the Seltos was pretty responsive and there was now hassle in coming to agreement with what the gearbox is doing in normal driving mode. It is at low-speeds, where the DCT gets a little jerky in a typical fashion and can get annoying but give it the slightest of open stretch and it will put a smile on your face. The Sport mode makes the gearbox and throttle response noticeably sharper and also changes the graphic design for the tacho and speedo meter upfront on the instrument screen. However, normal driving mode offers ample responsiveness under all conditions.

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The pleasant surprise in the 2023 Seltos was its suspension set up. It gets McPherson struts on the front and Coupled Torsion Beam Axle at the rear. However, the setup has been retuned to be more compliant than before and does not feel as stiff. We were surprised when we realised that even though it is more comfortable, the Seltos is still a sporty handler on high-speeds and curvy roads which lead us to believe that Kia has been able to tune the suspension to near to perfect calibration. The NVH levels are well under control and offer a silent and comfortable ride, even when we were downshifting on manual mode, the engine was barely audible and the DCT gearbox makes jerks a thing of the past on open stretches. The car is also 50mm wider than before which presumably adds to its well sorted handling characteristics. Moreover, the disc brakes on all four wheels did a satisfactory job when coming to stop form a higher speed,
Overall, the turbocharged 1.5-litre with the 7-speed DCT is a well balanced setup which will make you feel in touch with the car and its capability at all times. It is an enjoyable set up across city and highway conditions and the fuel efficiency did not drop below 8.9 kmpl even when we were driving more spiritedly. Kia is offering the Seltos in three engine options, apart from the turbo petrol, which include a Smartstream 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and a 1.5-litre CRDi diesel engine. The base petrol variants get the 6-speed manual or iVT automatic, the diesel engine can be paired with a 6-speed iMT auto or a torque converter automatic and the 1.5-litre turbo petrol comes with both 6-speed manual transmission or the 7-speed DCT gearbox.

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Practicality:
The Seltos was always a perfect mix of luxury and practicality in terms of cabin comfort and storage spaces. The door panels have big and deep bottle holders and pockets to keep miscellaneous stuff, the centre console also gets cup holders and the rear seat gets a pull-out cup holder as well. In terms of main storage area, the boot space has a capacity of 433-litre which can be extended and the Seltos also gets a full sized spare wheel tucked underneath to boot floorboard.

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The ADAS factor:
Another key highlight of the 2023 Seltos are the 17 Level 2 ADAS functions, It now gets automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness detection, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and more. The ADAS functions themselves work perfectly fine, however, the alarms that go with each function can get a little annoying such as the GPS based ‘children crossing ahead’ alert, that got triggered several times even when we were on a single lane highway with no school in sight. The driver can turn off some ADAS functions and alerts but a few alerts are not configurable. Overall, the Seltos gets 15 safety features as standard across all variants and an additional ADAS safety suite in the top trims.
Conclusion:
Accounting for the three different design trims, seven trim levels, three engine options and five gearbox options, the 2023 Seltos is available in 18 variants to choose from. Prices start at an introductory Rs 10.89 lakh ex-showroom and go up till Rs 19.99 lakh ex-showroom for the matte X-line with Level 2 ADAS. This makes the Seltos accessible to a wide range of buyers and a sensible buy for those who are looking for a premium SUV with high-end safety features but who do not want to deal with the added bulk of a third row which larger competitors come with. Read our variants and prices explainer for a detailed understanding here.

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Overall, the Kia Seltos has made a significant comeback in terms of packaging. It is worthy of the Kia badge and should be on the shortlist of those who are looking for a premium SUV with all the bells and whistles. The Seltos is now even more special with the impressive handling and driving characteristics that it has and certainly does put the ‘sport’ in SUV.



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