Kia’s market research suggests sales of compact SUVs will grow a further 20 per cent by the end of 2022, which is why its newest model, the Seltos, is so important.
The Nissan Qashqai-sized Seltos hits Australia in the fourth quarter of 2019, and according to its maker will offer more cabin space than any competitor. Like the smaller Kona from Hyundai, it’ll also come with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine option.
"The Seltos is an important car for Kia as it will play a central role in our international growth. Global sales of compact SUVs are forecast to expand from 6.5 million vehicles in 2018 to more than 8.2 million by the end of 2022,” said KMC president and CEO Han-Woo Park.
Stylistically it’s quite a departure from the Sportage. The boxy design is a watered-down version of the SP and SP Signature concepts, with a long bonnet, sharp lines in the body work and wider grille flanked by LED headlights.
It’s big for the class, measuring 4370mm nose to tail — about 20cm longer than a Kona and 10cm longer than the Mazda CX-3 — while its 2630mm wheelbase is just 4cm shorter than the Sportage’s. It’s quite low though, 1615mm, and has short-ish overhangs. Ground clearance is up to 179mm.
The interior has an asymmetric layout, a huge 10.25-inch tablet screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto atop the dash, an option Bose eight-speaker audio system, geometric patterns and lighter colour trim offsets, an optional 8.0-inch projecting head-up display and cabin lighting colours that can change along with your music.
According to Kia, the Seltos features “the largest cabin and trunk of any B-segment SUV currently on sale”, while rear occupants get reclining seats, a USB point and vents. The double-floored boot is engineered to offer up to 498L (VDA), which is on a par with much larger SUVs.
Two engines will be offered: a 110kW/180Nm 2.0-litre petrol with front- or AWD matched to a new CVT instead of the Kona’s 6AT, or the headline 130kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo with AWD and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, that cuts the 0-100km/h dash from 9.2 seconds to 8.0s.
Kia Australia’s engineers in Sydney have also re-calibrated the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension (multi-link in 1.6L all-wheel drive models), and the electric-assisted power steering, to better suit local roads.
Driver-assist systems available include radar cruise control that stops to zero and which can ‘talk’ to the navigation in some regions, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front- and rear autonomous emergency braking that also sense pedestrians, lane-keeping assist, driver fatigue detector and a system that warns you if you’re about to be your door into traffic.
The Seltos will be made in both India and Korea, with Australia’s versions coming from the latter.
We're in Korea and will be driving and reviewing the Seltos this week, with a slated publication date of Friday July 26. Keep an eye out.