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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Fine toothcomb changes injects poise and precision into Kia Seltos

Marque's once entry-level SUV not only recieves more tech, spec and a new appearance, but also a new heart for the flagship GT-Line.


At its South African launch four years ago, the Kia Seltos not only became the marque’s smallest SUV – a position since taken by the Sonet – but also the first to emerge from its then-new factory in Anantapur in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Success uninterrupted

A facility that started producing the Sonet months later, the Seltos, which debuted in its market of conceptualisation the previous year, has since gone on to be a sales success for Kia with production of the Indian version alone standing at more than 600 000 units, according businesstoday.in.

ALSO READ: Angular faced, updated Kia Seltos coming but when still unknown

Despite the contrived referencing of its name to that of Celtos, the son of Hercules in Greek mythology, the Seltos has become anything but a mythic tale despite sales having dropped since its debut, largely as a result of not only the Sonet, but also price increases.

Nonetheless, its importance as the product filler between the Sonet and Sportage in Kia’s SUV line-up remains, which made the long awaited introduction of the facelift version this week even more important.

Driving the updated Kia Seltos
LX now replaces the EX as the entry-level Seltos trim level

Unveiled in India last July, but the year before in the United States which sources its variants from South Korea, the Seltos’ first lifecycle update since its global reveal is anything but skin deep as apart from the interior and exterior, Kia South Africa has gone further by introducing the same powertrain options as in India.

The official launch in and around Cape Town that hosted the original unveiling weeks before the onset of the pandemic was therefore an appropriate one given the range now comprising eight models, plus the added focusing on diesel engine availability similar to the restructured Sportage range.

New outside

Dimensionally unchanged from the pre-facelift model, the Seltos’ aesthetic changes, up front at least, requires a keen eye as Kia has opted for a discreet redesign as per its Opposite United styling direction.

In this regard, the Seltos receives new headlights, still in a split design, plus standard LED daytime running lights on the flanks of the new front bumper, a restyled Tiger Nose grille, a slimmer, rectangular lower air intake, and down the side, new door mouldings.

Kia finally launches facelift Seltos in South Africa
Rear facia has benefitted from a significant redesign

At the rear, the updates are more prominent and consists of a new facia comprising not only a revised bumper and tailgate, but L-shaped LED light clusters connected by a central full-width light bar embossed with the Kia badge.

Lower down, the same satin silver finish applied to the faux skidplate at the front features on the rear, with the final change being a pair of chrome tipped exhaust outlets on the range-topping GT-Line.

Driving the updated Kia Seltos
Visually, the LX’s biggest difference from the GT Line at the rear and side are the less sportier bumpers and doors sills, plus the 16-inch alloy wheels.

On the colour front, Kia has added a single new hue, Pewter Olive, while the retaining the previously offered Intense Red, Aurora Black Pearl, Glacier White Pearl, Gravity Grey Metallic, Sparkling Silver Metallic and Imperial Blue Metallic.

As before, a two-tone option can be specified in which the Intense Red and Glacier White Pearl are topped by a black roof.

The change inside

Inside, the changes are trim level depended as the new dual 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and infotainment system are both omitted from the LX that takes over from the EX as the entry-level model.

Driving latest Kia SUV
Interior has been given an extensive overhaul

As standard, this variant receives an eight-inch system plus a 4.2-inch TFT instrument display, plus a reworked air-conditioning panel as opposed to the equally new climate control facia EX grades and above have as standard.

New air vents and upgraded materials are included across all eight models, although some discrepancies were noticed during the 250 km or so drive from Cape Town to Greyton via Botriver, bizarrely favouring the LX and not the GT-Line that were the sole versions available for the media to sample.

Spec

Besides the items mentioned, the LX ships standard with cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six airbags, a reverse camera, a six-speaker sound system plus:

  • rear parking sensors;
  • height-adjustable driver’s seat;
  • keyless entry;
  • auto on/off headlights;
  • multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel;
  • cloth seats
Driving the updated Kia Seltos
A dual display still features on the LX, though in this instance, the 10.25-inch instrument cluster is optional.

Next up, the EX swaps the 16-inch wheels for 17-inch alloys, the cloth seats for imitation leather and the manual air-conditioning for the mentioned dual-zone climate control.

Also included is a central storage area that doubles-up as an armrest (optional on the LX), a wireless smartphone charger, a drive mode selector with four settings; Eco, Comfort, Smart and Sport, push-button start and the 10.25-inch infotainment system.

On the step-up EX Plus, the 10.25-inch instrument cluster becomes available, as does LED headlights and fog lamps, interior mood lighting, chrome accents and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Driving latest Kia SUV
Infotainment system now measures 10.25-inches and further sports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

At the line-up’s summit, the GT-Line receives bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels, GT-Line bumper and door sills, a panoramic sunroof, alloy pedals, Head-Up Display, two-tone leather seats with GT-Line embroidered seatbacks and paddle shifters.

Included on the safety side are Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collison Warning Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Follow Assist and Lane Keep Assist.

The drive

Sampled first, the GT Line’s key highlight revolves around the previous 1.4 T-GDI engine making way for the new 1.5 T-GDI that debuted in Kia sister brand Hyundai’s Alcazar – known locally as the Grand Creta – last year.

Paired to a revised seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the unit develops 118kW/253Nm, an uptake of 15kW/11Nm, translating to a top speed of 195 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 8.9 seconds.

Driving latest Kia SUV
Standard on the GT Line is a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster

Absent at the launch was the new normally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol that replaces the previous 1.6. Producing 84kW/144Nm, the mill is paired to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT, with its top speed being 170 km/h and 0-100 km/h taking 12.3 seconds regardless of the transmission fitted.

The sole powerplant to remain unchanged, the 1.5 CRDI turbodiesel, which become available in 2020, develops 85kW/250Nm and is again mated to a six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox only.

Driving the updated Kia Seltos
Infotainment system measures eight-inches on the LX

While unsurprisingly likely to attract the most attention, the fuel-sipping oil-burner’s main handicap involves a sluggish initial pull that becomes more gradual and not “instant” as the revs climb.

Adverse to being hustled, which results in an unpleasant strained soundtrack, the diesel is more at home cruising, a task it performed exceptionally well at as once on the move, no audible noise filtered into the cabin from underneath the bonnet or from the road.

Kia finally launches facelift Seltos in South Africa
Red brake calipers can be had as option, but not the 18-inch alloy wheels, which are standard on the GT-Line.

Matched ideally to the six-speed ‘box, the CRDI’s indicated consumption displayed 4.5 L/100 km without any significant effort, more than impressive considering the number of mountain passes the route featured.

At the other end of the scale, the GT-Line finally felt warranted of the badge as apart from the steering being quick and the ride soft, but not devoid of feel, the added kicks results in substantially improved response and a sharper shifting gearbox.

Kia Seltos facelift arrives in South Africa
Dual-tone leather seats are unique to the GT-Line and further gain embroidered seatbacks.

In fact, the only grips that plagued both models involved the front passenger seat being mounted too high and unable to drop all the way down, and on the GT-Line, a less than premium feeling plastic insert below the infotainment system that felt the opposite on the LX.

Besides this, the Seltos made for a tough critique point. As well as the steering feel that applied to both variants, no complaints were directed at a lack of rear head-or-legroom, with the same applying to the interface of both infotainment systems.

Kia Seltos facelift arrives in South Africa
Space in the rear is won’t cause much of a hinderance, even if the standard panoramic sunroof on the GT-Line.

While the smaller eight-inch display’s graphic do appear dated compared to the 10.25-inch, both are easy to get accustomed to and further complimented by physical buttons and dials Kia has carried over to the workings of both ventilation systems as well.

As the proverbial cherry on top, the boot is capacious at 433-litres, though it can be expanded by means of the 60/40 split rear back. Oddly, Kia doesn’t quote any figures for this configuration.

Kia Seltos facelift arrives in South Africa
Boot space is rated at 433-litres with the rear seats in position

Conclusion

New vehicle prices in South Africa have been on the up and as such, value-for-money has become a loosely used term seemingly only applicable to products hailing from the China.

The above also applies to the Kia Seltos that now kicks-off at R467 995 for the 1.5 LX manual and concludes at a pricy R626 995 for the dual-clutch equipped GT-Line.

Kia finally launches facelift Seltos in South Africa
GT Line now gets more power in the form of a brand-new 1.5 T-GDI engine.

While unable to match the offerings from the People’s Republic on value, the driveability and final packaging grouped together means the Seltos stands-out as a more rounded and refined product.

With the mentioned changes applied, it now makes for an even more recommended entrant poised continue writing a myth reflecting anything but a fable.

Price

Included with each model’s price tag is a five-year/unlimited km warranty and a five-year/90 000 km service plan.

  • Seltos 1.5 LX – R467 995
  • Seltos 1.5 LX CVT – R492 995
  • Seltos 1.5 EX CVT – R532 995
  • Seltos 1.5 EX Plus CVT – R570 995
  • Seltos 1.5 CRDI LX AT – R521 995
  • Seltos 1.5 CRDI EX AT – R561 995
  • Seltos 1.5 CRDI EX Plus AT – R599 995
  • Seltos 1.5 T-GDI GT-Line DCT – R626 995

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