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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

Kia Seltos a compact SUV suitable for all seasons

This car proved that it can seemingly go anywhere during an epic adventure through the Karoo.

Kia’s Seltos has been on South African roads for a couple of years now, but each day the competition for a piece of the market increases.

The offerings range from the old stalwarts in Toyota, to young upstarts like Haval and Chery to name but a few. So, to remind us exactly what is on offer should you be considering a compact SUV from the Korean brand, Kia South Africa sent us on an adventure into the middle of nowhere.

Our chariot in the model line-up for this adventure was the top spec 1.5 turbodiesel auto in EX+ guise.

Kia Seltos road trip

And as day one started in Cape Town and headed out to Barrydale on nice easy going open road tar, this was the perfect choice for this leg of the journey. What is needed for long stretches of open road driving is a comfortable, powerful enough and frugal car.

The suspension setup of the Kia Seltos allows for comfort, the 86 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque between 1 500 and 2 750 rpm provides the urge and a fuel consumption figure that came in under six litres per 100 km.

The only rest and refuelling required was for the human cargo and this was taken care of by a diabetes-inducing milkshake at Diesel and Crème on Route 62 and a night in the Karoo Art Hotel.

Kia Seltos dirty
The Kia Seltos took the dirt in its stride. Picture: Mark Jones

Day two started with what I thought was going to be a hot spring swim in the local Tradouw river. It’s held at a little known stop along the river and something of a local tradition, but what I didn’t get was that this water is absolutely freezing.

Only once there did I realise my fatal mistake, but I couldn’t chicken out and the locals claimed it was good for mind and body. I am not so sure, as I couldn’t feel my toes till a few days later.

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Epic adventure

Numb toes and all, it was time to hit the road in the Kia Seltos and we took a leisurely drive on tar and dirt over the Seweweekspoort pass that has been around since 1862 to our lunch stop at the Bosch Luys Kloof Nature Reserve near Ladismith.

From there it was a bit of a more frantic run for the South African Long Telescope is situated at the South African Astronomical Observatory field station near the small town of Sutherland, in the Northern Cape. The Seltos once again proving that it could devour open road and dirt road will equal ease.

Kia Seltos maroon
There were some intersting pit stops along the way. Picture: Mark Jones

Our overnight stop was at a very chilly guest farm situated outside of Sutherland, known as Rogge Cloof, that dates back to 1756. This stunning and completely self-sufficient place that has been developed on hostile land that has said to have endured lions, droughts, snow, and freezing winds is a must see, and as probably as far off-road as you would want to take a Kia Seltos.

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The final day of our trip truly earned its “middle of nowhere” badge. Because from Rogge Cloof we headed further into the Karoo the hard way over the mountains with the Tamkwa Padstal being our lunch destination. Doing it this way round would have been brilliant fun in double cab bakkie, but in a front wheel drive soft-roader, it was slow going. But credit to the Seltos as we got there mostly unscathed with a puncture being our only casualty.

Creature comforts

Needless to say, the last part of the journey turned into a mad dash back to Cape Town for our flight home, but I can say that the three full days of driving the Kia Seltos was made pleasant by a variety of creature comforts.

These include air-conditioning, steering wheel-mounted remote controls, electric windows, cruise control, and an 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone mirroring plus Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition.

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With six airbags as standard, ABS with EBD and electronic stability control to name some of the safety features, we were kept safe on this adventure.

The Kia Seltos range is not the latest on the market, but your sensible money will not be wasted on this solid compact SUV offering, that seemingly can go anywhere.

The Kia Seltos 1.5 CRDI EX+ costs R502 995 and comes standard with an unlimited km/five-year warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan.

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