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Kia Seltos 2020 review: Sport+ AWD

Yes, that's Mars Orange paint on this Kia Seltos, named after the famously... er... red planet
EXPERT RATING
7.9
It might sound like it's arrived from, or built on, another planet, but there's certainly plenty that's out of this world about the new Kia Seltos, which amazed us in our review of the Sport + grade.

Seltos sounds like a planet from a straight-to-Netflix sci-fi series, but it’s actually the name of the new small SUV Kia is hoping you’ll love, no matter how silly it sounds.

The version we’ve tested here is the Sport + with all-wheel drive, which sits just under the top grade and could well be as high as you need to go, but you’ll work that out when you read the review.

You’ll also discover that our test car does actually have an interplanetary connection.

Kia SELTOS 2020: SPORT+ (AWD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$35,490

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Seltos Sport + AWD (all-wheel drive) is the second-most expensive in the line-up with its list price of $34,990, which is $3000 more than the front-wheel-drive version and sits under the $40,400 top-of-the-range GT Line.

At the time we published this review, Kia was offering a driveaway price of $36,490. The only option fitted to our test car was premium paint, which Kia calls Mars Orange and for which it charges $520.

The premium paint, called "Mars Orange" costs $520. The premium paint, called "Mars Orange" costs $520.

If you know anything about astronomy then you’ll know that the reason the surface of Mars has an orangey tinge is because the soil contains high levels of iron oxide, also known as rust. Mars Orange is a better paint name for a car than Rust. It's also slightly weird, considering it's known as "the Red Planet".

The Sport + comes standard with cloth and leather-like seats, a powered driver’s seat, rear privacy glass, adaptive cruise control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and 17-inch alloy wheels with a full-sized spare.

The Sport + comes standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The Sport + comes standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen.

Is it good value? Kia has a reputation for outstanding value, but the Seltos is up against some exceptionally affordable rivals such as the Mitsubishi ASX Exceed at $32,990, while the new Renault Kadjar is $37,990 for its top-spec Intens and the Nissan Qashqai Ti is $37,990.   

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Lots of things. To me, the Seltos’s profile is similar to the Volvo XC40, with the snub nose, tall bonnet and high-sided doors, which flick up towards that rear-quarter window on their way to the boot. Like the Volvo (but also nearly every SUV) the Kia has black, tough-looking cladding, which skirts its way from the front to the rear bumper.

There are also some little details that provide me with way too much joy, like the bumpy texture to the metal eyebrows over the headlights, which fades to a smooth finish. Then there’s the way the taillights extend into the tailgate like pincers, which is also pleasing.

Like nearly every SUV the Kia has black, tough-looking cladding. Like nearly every SUV the Kia has black, tough-looking cladding.

Inside, the standout feature is that giant 10.25-inch screen, and then there are the small things you don’t notice straight away, like the angular mesh over the stereo speakers.

There are things that don’t set my world on fire, like the seats, which are as flat and hard as they look, and the 17-inch alloy wheels look way too small.

The Sport + model scores 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport + model scores 17-inch alloy wheels.

How big is the Seltos? Let’s look at the dimensions. The Seltos is 4370mm end-to-end, 1800mm wide and 1615mm tall.

Did I mention that our car was painted Mars Red? No, that's right, because it's Mars Orange. 

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Small but practical; that’s how Mum describes Dad. It’s also a strength of the Seltos. Here’s an SUV with tiny proportions that make it easy to park , yet it still has enough room inside for somebody as tall as me (I’m 191cm) to sit behind their own driving position. Headroom back there is also astoundingly good.

Up front, I have excellent head, shoulder and elbow room, too.

Up front, there's excellent head, shoulder and elbow room. Up front, there's excellent head, shoulder and elbow room.

Cabin storage is good with big bottle holders in all doors, and two cup holders in the back and in the front, there’s also a medium-sized centre console bin and a large front console area with two USB ports and a 12V outlet.   

The Seltos’s boot has a cargo capacity of 433 litres – bigger than the Kadjar’s 408 litres, and the 393-litre boot of the ASX.

With the rear seats upright, boot space is rated at 433 litres. With the rear seats upright, boot space is rated at 433 litres.

Downsides are the lack of directional air vents, USB ports or a storage tray in the second row.

For the size of this SUV those rear doors are quite large and tall, and open fairly wide, making for easy entry and exit.

Headroom in the back is astoundingly good. Headroom in the back is astoundingly good.

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

The Sport + grade scores the 1.6-litre turbo-four cylinder with an output of 130kW and 265Nm, which is the higher-powered engine in the Seltos line-up and 20kW and 85Nm more than the 2.0-litre,  naturally aspirated four-cylinder in the two lower grades.

The 1.6-litre turbo-four cylinder engine makes 130kW/265Nm. The 1.6-litre turbo-four cylinder engine makes 130kW/265Nm.

The front-wheel-drive Sport + comes with a CVT, but all-wheel-drive versions like our test car have a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.

I found the dual-clutch needed getting used to with its jerky, slow-traffic take off, and there was also rollback on hills, which admittedly could be remedied with an auto-hold function, but that also had its drawbacks, which I’ll cover below. 

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Kia says the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, should use 7.6L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. My testing took in 230.7km of motorways and city commutes and my test car used 28.80 litres, which equates to 12.5L/100km.

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

The Kia Seltos had not been give an ANCAP safety rating at the time this review was published. That said, the Sport + is likely to be given the maximum five-star rating because, unlike the lower grade,s it comes standard with AEB, which can detect pedestrians and cyclists.

Also coming standard are lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, while both front and rear rows are covered by airbags.

For child seats, you’ll find three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFX mounts across the rear row.

A full-sized spare alloy wheel is under the boot floor.

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?   10/10

The Seltos Sport + is covered by Kia’s seven-year unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month/10,000km intervals and is capped at $282 for the first service, $474 for the second, $346 for the third, $607 for the fourth, $317 for the fifth, $600 for the sixth and $640 for the seventh/70,000km visit.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Kia Seltos Sport + has good visibility all round, a great driving position with a low hip point and the 1.6-litre turbo petrol has plenty of grunt.

If I could change anything it would be to lighten the steering  because the calibration is set a tad too heavy, even in the regular driving setting. Still, the Seltos points and steers accurately.

The dual-clutch auto will take a bit of getting used to as it makes movement at low speeds a little jerky and while I experienced roll-back on hills the auto hold function takes care of that – although it still doesn’t make for the smoothest of launches.

A fairly composed ride and good handling for the class makes the Seltos above average compared to rivals, such as the ASX and Qashqai.   

Verdict

Kia has nailed the Seltos in terms of size and practicality and the Sport + offers extra standard safety equipment over the lower grades in the range. Aside from the slightly heavy steering and a not-so-smooth transmission, there’s a lot like here.

Pricing guides

$33,195
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$25,490
Highest Price
$40,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT LINE (AWD) 1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO $40,900 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 GT LINE (AWD) Pricing and Specs
GT LINE (AWD) (TWO-TONE) 1.6L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO $40,900 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 GT LINE (AWD) (TWO-TONE) Pricing and Specs
S (FWD) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $25,490 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 S (FWD) Pricing and Specs
S (FWD) WITH SAFETY PACK 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $26,490 2020 Kia Seltos 2020 S (FWD) WITH SAFETY PACK Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership10
Driving7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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