Goa in the monsoons in one of the most magical places to be in India. The beauty of this state in western India reaches another level in this season.
Kia Motors India chose Goa as the destination to showcase its first offering in India last week. Media personnel from across the country converged in Goa to experience what the Seltos had to offer as part of the Kia Motors Seltos VIP Media Drive.Before we get into the Seltos, let’s talk about….
WHO IS KIA MOTORS?
Kia was founded in December 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, eventually producing Korea’s first domestic bicycle, the Samchully, in 1951. In 1952, Kyungsung Precision Industry changed its name to Kia Industries, and later built Honda-licensed small motorcycles (starting in 1957), Mazda-licensed trucks (1962) and cars (1974).Today Kia Motors headquartered in Seoul, is South Korea’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, following the Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 3.3 million vehicles in 2015.
KIA IN INDIA
We in India first laid our eyes of the Seltos when it was known as the SP Concept. The mid-size SUV segment which the Seltos is placed in, is one of the fiercest and most competitive segments in the automobile industry.The name Seltos is derived from “Celtos”, the son of Hercules in Greek mythology. Kia Motors and Hyundai both fall under the umbrella of the Hyundai Motor Company. The Seltos is built on a new platform. This will also be the platform on which the second-generation Hyundai Creta will drive on early next year.
HOW DOES IT LOOK?The Seltos is a good-looking mid-size SUV with a commanding presence about it. Take a walk around and what you notice immediately is the level of detailing that comes across in the Seltos design. Near-vertical front-end upright pillars, impressive looking grille with chrome surround, large headlights and a sleek looking bumper. When viewed from the back one notices the bumper with a scruff plate, signature LED taillights, glasshouse that’s tapers towards the rear. The Seltos sits on 17-inch wheels which give it a strong and confident profile.One gets full LED headlights, Kia signature heartbeat shape LED DRL and ice cube LED fog lamps. We got to experience the lights immediately on Day 1 of the media drive, as conditions were dark and gloomy.
The Seltos engines are all BS6 emission norms compliant. One has lots of options to choose from. One gets a 115hp, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, a 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel, and a 140hp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol. The 6-speed manual transmission options in the Seltos are all the same standard. In terms of automatic transmissions, the Seltos comes with different options. The 1.5 petrol gets a CVT, the 1.5 diesel is available with a 6-speed torque converter auto, while the 1.4 turbo-petrol comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
TECH LINE AND GT LINEThe Kia Seltos will be available in Tech line and the GT line which each one having its own trims. The 1.5 litre petrol and diesel version will be available in the Tech line. The GT line which is the sportier option is exclusive to the 1.4 turbo-petrol version. The GT Line models get crystal-cut alloy wheels, GT line badging and red accents on the bumpers and sides
HOW IS IT INSIDE?Stepping in and out of the Seltos is very easy and comfortable. Courtesy the height of the cabin. The moment you sit on the plush leather seats one immediately feels a sense of comfort and familiarity. The seats offer superb under-thigh and lumbar support. This is very important as most Kia customers will be driving the car in the congested stop-go traffic conditions in our cities. Sitting in a car that doesn’t tire you at the end of the daily commute is a big plus. The level of quality in the interior rivals that of more expensive European cars. The fit and finish in the Seltos cabin is of the highest standard. Everything from the flat-bottomed leather wrapped steering wheel, the design pattern on the leather seats, the panels on the door and dashboard have a premium feel about that. The Tech Line versions get black-on beige interiors. The sportier GT Line gets an all-black interior with red stitching on the steering wheel, gear lever and the leather seat to complete the look.The infotainment system sits high up in the driver’s line of sight. The Base models comes with a 2-DIN audio system, the mid-range versions get an 8.0-inch touchscreen, while higher-spec versions get a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The UI on the touchscreen is one of the best I have ever used. Like a premium modern-day mobile phone, the touchscreen is fast, well laid out and good to look at. It offers a split screen mode which came very handy while we are reviewing the car in Goa. The voice activated functions that we tested on the review performed admirably. The top spec Seltos gets a multi-info display in the information console while the GT Line GTX versions comes with an 8.0-inch heads-up display that shows speed and navigation details. The steering mounted buttons let you answer calls, adjust the music volume amongst other features.Legroom in the rear cabin is very adequate, with enough width and head room to fit 3 people comfortably. Under thigh support is good making travel in the rear seats a comfortable exercise for the passengers. The rear windows are large with manually retractable sun visors with a backrest that can be reclined by 6 degrees. The Seltos offers ample room in the boot with a storage capacity of 433 litres. If that isn’t enough, then you can fold the 60:40 rear seats flat to create more space.Lots of equipment is on offer in the Kia. More than any other car in this segment. The top end versions i.e. the Tech Line and GT line get auto and LED headlights, electric sunroof, ventilated front seats, powered driver’s seat, ambient lighting, 400W Bose sound system (which is very impressive), wireless phone charging and tyre pressure monitoring system. The level of detailing and research Kia Motors has done about the Indian market is evident, as the Seltos comes with an onboard air purifier with three fragrance options to choose from. Android Auto and Apple Carplay comes bundled with the infotainment system.
The Seltos comes equipped with Kia’s E-Sim based UVO connected car system. This app offers 37 features such as live location, geo-fencing, remote engine start/stop amongst others. Since this is a mobile network dependent system, this may not work in areas where network coverage is poor.
HOW IS IT TO DRIVE?
The first day we got to drive the 1.5 litre Diesel automatic. Right off the block the Seltos was easy to drive, engine was extremely refined, upshift and downshifts went off smoothly without any lag. The NVH levels are very good. What impressed me right away was the handling of the Seltos. It slides very easily in and out of corners. Step on the accelerator and you are cruising at 3 digit speeds in no time. I got to experience stop-go traffic at one point in the drive. Here again the Seltos is extremely relaxed and one doesn’t feel tired in such conditions.Next morning, I started with the Diesel manual. The performance was identical to the automatic. The manual transmission is very refined with the gear ratios perfectly tuned for our driving conditions and driving styles.
The suspension setup and drive quality in the Seltos are top notch. Bad roads and potholes were handled without any difficulty. The Seltos is not the kind of car one would go off-roading in though. This is a true-blue urban SUV that’s perfect for city and highway driving.Then I got my hands on the 1.4 turbo petrol GT manual. This engine offers 140Hp and 242Nm of torque. The difference was evident right away. The car took off swiftly, the revs quickly went past 6000 rpm, the handling was sharper. The engine is smooth, quiet and equally at home in slow traffic conditions as well. Going up and down through the gears is a smooth exercise. This variant is definitely the one, enthusiasts are going to line up to buy.
Next I drove the 1.4 turbo petrol DCT automatic. The automatic transmission is excellent, with upshifts and downshifts synced well to offer the sportier performance the driver wants from this engine. I threw it into corners, simulated stop-go driving conditions, the DCT automatic handled it without a stutter.
The 1.4 litre turbo petrol GT Line offers everything you want in a sports SUV.
THE VERDICTThe Seltos is a stylish looking, well built, premium mid-size SUV. Its offers so much in terms of performance, features and driving comfort. Kia has so far got an advance booking of 23000 in 3 weeks since bookings were officially open.
Kia Motors India has got everything right on point with the Seltos so far. I am sure the pricing will be something that will make the Seltos a winner from the get-go.