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Kia Seltos 2020 review: GT Line

The top-spec Kia Seltos is fully-loaded to tackle the Euros
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The Kia Seltos GT-Line packs the Korean company's effortlessly excellent compact SUV full of features with a price-tag that trips over Euros like the Volkswagen T-Roc and Audi Q2. Can the fully-loaded Kia overcome badge snobbery to find a place on your driveway?

Car companies dream of having an unexpected smash hit on their hands. Not only does stock fly off the forecourts, it generates a bit of buzz around the brand. Dealers love it too because they don't have to haggle and get to suck air through their teeth when you ask what the waiting list is.

You get the impression Kia wasn't even slightly surprised by the car's success. It's a confident design and the campaign - with music from the very zeitgeist-ey Billie Eilish - makes a case for a car that sells itself.

The base model, despite tottering about on skinny steel wheels, is exceptional value and it has become my default answer for the average punter looking for a new car (if I can't talk them into a hatchback).

Kia Seltos 2020: GT Line (awd)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$41,100

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The GT-Line lands an easy $5000 more than the also turbo-engined AWD Sport+, and over $15,000 more than the base S. So it will want to have a lot of stuff. And it does.

You get 18-inch alloys, eight-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, heated and powered front seats, auto LED headlights, sat nav, fake leather trim, head-up display, power everything, auto wipers, wireless charge pad and a full-size spare.

For this price, it'd want to have a lot of stuff. And it does. For this price, it'd want to have a lot of stuff. And it does.

A 10.25-inch screen proudly surveys the cabin and runs Kia's pretty good media software package that also has digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Bose-branded speakers aren't the last word in quality but they're not bad.

Weirdly, you can't have a two-tone paint job and a sunroof. That doesn't bother me in the slightest but it's bound to annoy someone, so consider yourself informed.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The Seltos is a fantastic piece of design. This segment is full of individuality, from the 'Dynamic Shield' face on the cheap-but-ordinary ASX to the Seltos' sister, the car Hyundai Kona, the only boring one is the Honda HR-V.

Even then, the Seltos stands out with a very Euro-look exterior that does function and form without sucking at either. The GT-Line's various additions don't make it worse, either, with a bit of aggression and black mesh to make it stand out.

The Seltos is a fantastic piece of design. The Seltos is a fantastic piece of design.

And the wheel design, with the centre nut look is a very cool touch.

Inside it's a bit more conventional but no less well-executed. The big screen looks great on the centre stack, blasting you with technology from the second you sit down. Everything looks pretty good and it feels well-made. Some of the plastics are a little ho-hum, but nothing nasty.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Seltos has tons of space for a compact SUV and is almost as roomy as the cavernous (relatively-speaking) Honda HR-V. With that straight roofline comes plenty of headroom front and rear and the length means good rear legroom. This is a car teenagers will be happy in the back of (again, relatively speaking), as happy as they would be in the larger again Nissan Qashqai.

  • The Seltos has tons of space for a compact SUV. The Seltos has tons of space for a compact SUV.
  • With that straight roofline comes plenty of headroom front and rear. With that straight roofline comes plenty of headroom front and rear.
  • The boot in the GT-Line is smaller than the base-model S. The boot in the GT-Line is smaller than the base-model S.
  • With 433 litres you won't be struggling with the weekly shop, though. With 433 litres you won't be struggling with the weekly shop, though.

The GT-Line is a more pleasant place to be if you're in the back seat if you value things like cupholders and an armrest, neither of which are present in the entry-level car.

The boot in the GT-Line is smaller than the base-model S owing to the addition of a full-size spare. With 433 litres you won't be struggling with the weekly shop, though.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The GT-Line is one of two Seltos models available with the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. With its force-fed four cylinders developing 130kW/265Nm, all four wheels get in on the action with up to half the power going to the rear wheels when required.

The GT-Line is one of two Seltos models available with the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. The GT-Line is one of two Seltos models available with the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine.

You can tow 600kg unbraked and 1250kg braked, an extra 100kg over the 2.0-litre engine fitted to lower grade models.

Speaking of that engine, the turbo delivers another 20kW and a whopping 85Nm of torque and uses a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission instead of the 2.0-litre's CVT.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The official combined cycle figure for the turbo GT-Line is 7.6L/100km.

While that doesn't match the sticker figures on some rivals - particularly German ones - it's far closer to the real world figure I got of 8.4L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The GT-Line comes with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, driver attention alert, reversing camera, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, forward AEB (with pedestrian and cyclist detection) and 'Driver Attention Alert+.'

You also get two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors.

The Seltos, slightly unexpectedly, scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in February 2020 despite the lower models using a camera-based AEB.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Kia's industry-leading after-sales package starts with a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

On top of that, you get seven years of capped-price servicing and roadside assist as long as you keep servicing at Kia.

Kia's industry-leading after-sales package starts with a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Kia's industry-leading after-sales package starts with a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

The 1.6-litre engine covers 12 months/10,000km between services, in contrast to the 2.0's 12months/15,000km interval. Not many people cover fewer than 10,000km per year so you'll need to take the costs into account.

The pricing is a bit all over the place, with the first service starting with a $282 charge, rising as high as $640 (seventh service) and never less than $317. Over seven services, you'll pay $466 per visit to the workshop.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The first Seltos I drove last year was excellent. On balloon-like tyres and steel wheels and with a lot less power than the GT-Line, it was almost the perfect compact SUV.

For most people, it probably is. But, being a bit of a hoon, I wondered what it would be like with the turbo engine and a proper transmission rather than the 2.0's CVT.

The GT is a car that feels very secure on the road no matter the weather. The GT is a car that feels very secure on the road no matter the weather.

Despite running on larger wheels, the firm ride doesn't seem any worse despite much lower profile rubber. It's not super-firm, obviously, just firmer than you might expect from a car of this type. The 235/40 tyres are a bit noisier than the 205s of the non-turbo cars, but it's not a big deal. 

That translates to an even more enthusiastic direction change and with the widest rubber on any Seltos, lots more grip in the corners. Then you feed in the all-wheel drive system and you have a car that feels very secure on the road no matter the weather.

The AWD system is mostly on holidays until the front wheels start to slip and the rears are then called into action, with up to fifty percent of power heading to the back. On greasy roads, a stomped throttle will prompt a little chirp from the front wheels before the system sorts itself out.

Despite running on larger wheels, the firm ride doesn't seem any worse. Despite running on larger wheels, the firm ride doesn't seem any worse.

A seven-speed dual-clutch is always going to be preferable to a CVT but this one could do with a bit less hesitation so you can put a bit more trust in it when breaking into traffic.

One of the big advantages of the Seltos turbo is the big increase in torque - this makes urban driving much more relaxed and open road overtaking a lot less nerve-racking.

Verdict

Like any top-of-the-line car, you're not really going to buy the GT-Line with your head. The GT-Line doesn't deliver anything amazing over the Sport+ with the same engine, but does look better outside and feel better in.

What you are getting is the best compact SUV on the market today, with a strong engine, fantastic looks and a bit of fun in the driving experience. You could buy a front wheel drive Audi Q2 for the same money, but you wouldn't have anywhere near the same specification or value-for-money.

Pricing guides

$33,395
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$25,690
Highest Price
$41,100

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT Line (awd) 1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO $41,100 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 GT Line (awd) Pricing and Specs
GT Line (awd) (two-Tone) 1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO $41,100 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 GT Line (awd) (two-Tone) Pricing and Specs
S (fwd) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $25,690 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 S (fwd) Pricing and Specs
S (fwd) With Safety Pack 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $26,690 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 S (fwd) With Safety Pack Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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