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Driven: Kia finally joins small-SUV race with Seltos

All-new Seltos small SUV to help boost Kia sales with competitive pricing, new tech

18 Oct 2019

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has finally joined the crucial and rapidly growing small-SUV segment with the launch of its latest all-new model, the Seltos, which is set to provide valuable sales volume for the brand going forward.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Seltos, KMAu COO Damien Meredith said it was “very important” for the brand to join the segment, which has grown from 39,535 sales in 2011 to 139,163 units in 2018.


“Small SUVs are a very, very big segment now, and we’ve finally got a car that can compete in that segment, so we’re pretty excited about it,” he said.


“While our numbers will be limited for probably 12 months, we believe it will be a good incremental business for us.”


Kia is aiming for roughly 650 sales per month or 7800 per year, which would place it in roughly eighth position in the sub-$40,000 small-SUV segment.


The South Korean car-maker’s relatively modest sales expectations are due to supply constrictions from the Gwangju factory in the brand’s native country (see separate story).


Mr Meredith said he expects buyers to come from both within and outside the brand, with a roughly 50/50 split of new and existing customers.


“We hope it brings new customers into the brand, but there’s obviously a portion of Sportage-type owners, previous Sportage buyers, and I think previous Cerato buyers will have a look at it, so there will be a bit of topping and tailing with it, but we would hope that the car’s probably 50 per cent incremental for that total.”


At launch, the Seltos will be offered with five variants, with driveaway pricing across the range that starts from $25,990 for the entry-level S and topping out at $41,990 for the flagship GT-Line.


Pricing for the Seltos helps it compete with other hot-selling small SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3 that starts from $22,710 plus on-roads for the Neo Sport manual or $24,710 for the auto version, the Mitsubishi ASX ES manual ($23,490 plus on-roads) and auto ($25,490), Nissan Qashqai ST manual ($27,490 plus on-roads) and auto ($29,490), and Hyundai Kona Go auto ($24,000 plus on-roads).


Mr Meredith said the decision to offer the Seltos with driveaway pricing was simply a matter of simplicity.


“The only reason for that is it makes it simpler for everybody to have a driveaway price,” he said. “It’s easier to communicate. Nothing’s hidden.”


Four model grades – S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line – and two automatic-only engine choices are available on the Seltos, with all but the top-spec GT-Line being offered with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine developing 110kW at 6200rpm and 180Nm at 4500rpm, and driving the front wheels.


While other Kia and Hyundai models come with a 2.0-litre engine developing the same outputs, the engine in the Seltos is different, with the brand using a more efficient Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), with a desired result of greater fuel savings.


Combined-cycle fuel consumption for the entry-level engine is rated at 6.8 litres per 100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are 157 grams per km.


KMAu says it expects 80 per cent of its sales to consist of the 2.0-litre engine, with a relatively even split between model grades.


Available on the higher-spec Sport+ and GT-Line grades is the familiar 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine found in many other Kia and Hyundai products, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and tuned to develop 130kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm from 1500-4500rpm.


Combined fuel consumption for turbo variants climbs to 7.6L/100km and CO2 emissions to 175g/km.


Along with the increased performance, turbo models also benefit from all-wheel drive and the fitment of independent multi-link rear suspension, in place of the torsion-beam set-up found on front-drive versions.


Both suspension configurations have been subject to an Australia-specific ride and handling tune, which is unique to the Australian market.


Checking in at 4370mm long, 1800mm wide and 1615mm tall with a wheelbase of 2630mm, the Seltos is one of the larger members of the small-SUV segment, competing size-wise with other segment-straddling models like the Qashqai, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Suzuki Vitara.


Luggage space for all models bar the S is rated at 433 litres, up to 1393L with the front seats stowed, while the entry-level model swaps out its full-size alloy spare tyre for a space-saver spare, which helps increase boot space by 65L, to a generous 498L.


Standard specification in the entry-level S includes 16-inch steel wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 3.5-inch instrument cluster display, cruise control, halogen daytime running lights (DRLs), automatic headlights, a six-speaker audio system, a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, rear parking sensors, cloth upholstery, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with vehicle and pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, driver attention alert and lane-keep assist.


A $1000 safety pack is available as an option, which includes a more advanced AEB system with cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, enhanced driver attention alert, an electronic parking brake, power-folding mirrors, an automatic driver’s window and 15-inch disc brakes.


Stepping up to the $29,490 Sport, which like the S is available only with the 2.0-litre engine, adds 17-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch touchscreen (which debuts Kia’s latest multimedia system and is claimed by the brand to be the largest screen in the segment), satellite navigation with SUNA traffic and 10 years of map updates, single-zone climate control, a premium steering wheel and gear selector, an auto window defogger, front halogen foglights, solar windows and a full-size spare tyre.


The $1000 safety pack is also available on the Sport and includes all the features found in the S except for the automatic driver’s window and power-folding mirrors, which are included as standard.


Next up is the Sport+ grade, which is the only variant in the range that can be optioned with either engine, with the front-drive 2.0-litre asking $32,990 and the turbo, AWD version adding $3500 to the asking price, at $36,490.


Standard spec in the Sport+ includes cloth/artificial-leather upholstery, a smart key with push-button start, smart remote start, heated side mirrors, LED interior lighting, an electrochromic rearview mirror, front parking sensors, a parcel shelf, all the features from the optional safety pack, blind-spot detection and avoidance, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist.


Last up is the turbo-only, $41,990 GT-Line, which boosts specification to include 18-inch alloys, a sunroof, interior sound mood lighting, an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system, a wireless phone charger (which Kia claims can charge phones 30 per cent quicker than conventional chargers), a 7.0-inch colour instrument cluster display, a head-up display, artificial-leather upholstery, 10-way driver and eight-way passenger power-adjustable seats, heated and ventilated front seats, LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, lane following assist, safe exit alert and aeroblade wipers.


Seven exterior colours are available with Starbright Yellow the standard hue, and six other colours offered at a $520 premium. Two-tone paint options with a black roof are available on the GT-Line but require the deletion of the sunroof.


The Seltos goes on sale locally on October 25.


2019 Kia Seltos driveaway pricing
S FWD (a) $25,990
Sport FWD (a) $29,490
Sport+ FWD (a) $32,990
Sport+ AWD (a) $36,490
GT-Line AWD (a) $41,990

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