The Kia Seltos small SUV arrived in Australia in 2019. Since then it's managed to carve a nice slice of market share.
Last year saw the nameplate purchased by just over 10 per cent of all shoppers in the small, mainstream SUV segment. And so far in 2021, it's managed to catch the attention of around eight per cent of the buyer pool.
In terms of numbers that sees around 10,000 examples finding homes each year, as the overall segment size is around 100,000 per year nationally.
Nothing has changed since the product first launched, other than the price. Compared to the last time we reviewed a Kia Seltos GT-Line, the price has risen by $1300 from $42,990 to $44,290 drive-away.
As no extra equipment comes for the money, consider the increase just a sign of the times. It's also worth noting that Kia uses national drive-away pricing, so if you're comparing other cars, be sure that you understand the drive-away prices, and not just the manufacturer list price, or before on-roads cost.
|2021 Kia Seltos GT-Line|
|Engine||1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power and torque||130kW at 6000rpm, 265Nm at 1500–4500rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.6L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||7.5L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up/down)||433L/1393L|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five stars (tested 2019)|
|Warranty (years/km)||Seven years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-30, Volkswagen T-Cross, Ford Puma|
|Price as tested||$44,290 drive-away|
The only choice you have to make with a 2021 Kia Seltos GT-Line is deciding its colour. A single-tone metallic yellow, two-tone metallic yellow with black roof, and solid white with black roof, are all offered as no-cost options – though two-tone paint deletes the standard sunroof.
The other six monotone options – including a nice blue, and orange hue – will set you back $520 extra. That makes our test car cost $44,290 drive-away, regardless of where you live.
We'll start with the cabin as that is its best attribute – as should be the case with an SUV. The first row feels spacious, with clever design and functional ergonomics both underpinning why.
Width-wise, there's no real difference between a Seltos and its peers in the segment, but Kia has managed to make it feel from the class above in terms of size. Heated, cooled and electrically adjustable leather seats come as standard, which first welcome you in. They're well designed, comfortable, and suitable for myriad body sizes.
Next, you'll notice the large glasshouse, which includes rear windows that don't shrink the more rearward they go. It feels airy, light and in turn spacious on the inside. Another thing comforting the mind is the wide array of cubbies and storage bins to put things in. First, your phone, which is handled by a small shelf located in front of the gear lever, with both USB and wireless charging on offer.
Behind this area, and the gear selector itself, is more space for sunglasses, your keys, and a small bottle. Its door bins are large but sadly lack a useful-shaped bottle holder. If that's not enough, you'll find the armrest storage great for more private items.
Infotainment is handled by a 10.25-inch touchscreen system with native satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay plus Android Auto and DAB radio. I mentioned wired because, at least according to Kia, its infotainment systems with in-built navigation are unable to access wireless smartphone integration tech.
That means the entry-level Seltos has appealingly better wireless smartphone connectivity, and the most expensive one doesn't. Either way, consider it a blessing, as I've had general connectivity bugs and frustrations with wireless smartphone mirroring capability.
You also get a Bose premium audio system. Despite being rather ordinary, it's at least better than the unbranded stereo found inside lesser Seltos models. A gimmick coming with the premium audio is mood lighting that 'reacts' to the music being played.
Flashiness and newfangled stuff aside, it's a comfortable, spacious-feeling cabin, with a second row that continues the theme. Out here, I found there to be ample space behind my own driving position. I'm 183cm tall and with long legs, so I generally sit further back than the average person. Even so, I had 2cm of knee room, heaps of foot room, and plenty of head room.
A nice touch, as mentioned before, is the continuation of large glass into the second row. Some brands from this segment – like Toyota – seem to pinch the size of the glass toward the rear of the car, making it feel dark, dingy and a bit claustrophobic from inside. Kia doesn't play any of that game, even retaining a small rear quarter window for good measure.
Other things to play with in the back include two rear air vents, a single USB port, and small areas of storage. The bottle holders found in the rear doors are more useable than the front, and a centre armrest folds down to feature a pair of cupholders also.
Behind all lies a huge boot, 433L to be exact, and it's one of the biggest in its class. Alongside the capacity there's also a nice, wide opening to load through so you can literally throw your full-sized pram in, bassinet and all.
Something else nice is the flush load edge. That enables you to either push or pull heavy things around the boot easily or generally load them easier.
Underneath the boot floor lies a full-size spare wheel. If you need to extend the cargo area briefly, it is easy enough to remove, which then means you can lower the boot floor to create an absolutely massive storage area. Space is handy, especially if you're planning to use your Seltos as a modern-day family car.
The range comes with a choice of two powertrains, and our GT-Line model features the high-performance layout. It's a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo that produces 130kW/265Nm with torque on offer from 1500–4500rpm. It's this figure and its wide dosage across 3000rpm that gives the Seltos a nice amount of pep.
It's also handy for when you load the Seltos up with kids and luggage, as unlike its naturally aspirated competitors, it feels less affected by mass.
With one on board, it feels sporty – something magnified by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. On the move it is fast on the upshift, which makes the performance feel greater than initially first perceived.
However, with even the most well-calibrated passenger dual-clutch transmissions, as this one is, it still features some lurching and hesitation in certain scenarios.
Reverse parallel parking up an incline can be tricky, and requires masterful experience with the throttle pedal to get a manoeuvre that's smooth and fluid. Around town in traffic, it can be a touch grabby, too, but allowing for a safe gap in peak-hour traffic means you won't notice it much.
Given Sydney was fast approaching and then entered a two-week lockdown at the time of testing, the roads were empty and flowing. With traffic alleviated, the Seltos returned a fuel-usage figure of 7.5L/100km – a pip under the official combined claim of 7.6L/100km and over the highway claim of 6.3L/100km.
We drove the Kia over inner-suburban roads, around Sydney's CBD, and right out to the more rural, north-western suburbs of Arcadia and Glenorie. It is clear Kia's local Australian outfit have tuned in firmness to create some initial perceived sportiness.
As with all Kias that come to Australia, the Seltos too has gone through a localised, Australian-led ride and handling program. The team behind the effort strongly believe in 'passive' safety, especially when considering how a car reacts at speed given how fast and treacherous some of our roads are.
As a result, its cars can be firm, or more alert if you will. However, the Seltos feels slightly too aggressive, with clues coming from how continually busy the ride felt over a wide variety of surfaces.
The steering also feels quite heavy, which some will love and others loathe. Still, both are fussy comments given the brand's (high) reputation in terms of vehicle handling.
It's quite fun to throw down a country lane, though, with enough confidence provided to carry speed and enjoy the road. If you are someone who partakes in touring in and around more rural suburbs, then you'll feel safe at pace when behind the wheel.
The only other downfall was the level of internal noise suppression, which could be better. Some areas of coarse-chip freeway did result in both tyre road and vibrations felt and heard in the cabin.
The cost has gone up, but not enough to change our perception here. It's nice to see an SUV that ticks all the right boxes: internal space, boot space (with full-size spare), and great ergonomics.
Many feature a big boot but cramped second row, or all the space and no cargo area, but rarely both. On top of those good foundations, the Seltos GT-Line adds a punchy driveline, good handling, and plenty of safety tech.