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Kia Seltos 2023 review: Sport+ FWD

The Kia Seltos Sport+ is as good-looking as ever and offers families an affordable small SUV.

The Kia Seltos Sport+ is as good-looking as ever and offers families who might be tight on space, an affordable small SUV.

At $35,800, before on-road costs, the features list has been expanded to keep up with the market, positioning it as a firm competitor against the likes of the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-30.

I've been driving it for a week with my family of three and it's been an interesting time, that has showcased what Kia does right... and what it could improve on.

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What does it look like?

Kia hasn't tweaked the exterior but it maintains the sexy compact body styling that has just enough puff to warrant the SUV tag. The kerb-side impression is sharp and stylish and when there are so many small SUVs to choose from, that's what makes it stand out.

Surprisingly, the Sport+ makes do with halogen daytime running lights but otherwise, the LED lights are slim and long. They wrap around the corners of the front and rear before blending into the lines of the body panels. The overall effect is quite sleek.

  • The Kia Seltos Sport+ is as good-looking as ever and offers families an affordable small SUV. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Kia Seltos Sport+ is as good-looking as ever and offers families an affordable small SUV. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • Kia hasn’t tweaked the exterior but it maintains the sexy compact body styling that has just enough puff to warrant the SUV tag. (image: Glen Sullivan) Kia hasn’t tweaked the exterior but it maintains the sexy compact body styling that has just enough puff to warrant the SUV tag. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The kerb-side impression is sharp and stylish and when there are so many small SUVs to choose from, that’s what makes it stand out. (image: Glen Sullivan) The kerb-side impression is sharp and stylish and when there are so many small SUVs to choose from, that’s what makes it stand out. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • Surprisingly, the Sport+ makes do with halogen daytime running lights but otherwise, the LED lights are slim and long. (image: Glen Sullivan) Surprisingly, the Sport+ makes do with halogen daytime running lights but otherwise, the LED lights are slim and long. (image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The LED lights wrap around the corners of the front and rear before blending into the lines of the body panels. The overall effect is quite sleek. (image: Glen Sullivan) The LED lights wrap around the corners of the front and rear before blending into the lines of the body panels. The overall effect is quite sleek. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The 17-inch alloy wheels have a nice design and I like the way the roof rails end in a little tail. They draw the eye and extend the roofline.

The interior showcases quite a bit of hard plastic but it's still pleasing to look at. The crumpled-look speakers are cool and add some fun. The drawcard is the panoramic display panel which houses the multimedia system and instrument cluster, it really elevates the interior.

The 17-inch alloy wheels have a nice design. (image: Glen Sullivan) The 17-inch alloy wheels have a nice design. (image: Glen Sullivan)

How does it drive?

Ah. A bit of a mixed bag, I'm afraid.

On the one hand, the little 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine can feel a bit gutless on the open-road, particularly on hills where I often redline the revs just to keep my speed consistent.

Then on the other hand, it seems to have okay pick-up. Meaning, I could zip across city traffic pretty comfortably. Go figure!

Worth noting the Sport+ AWD ($39,300) features a more powerful 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission rather than this car's CVT auto.

The little 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine can feel a bit gutless on the open-road, particularly on hills. (image: Glen Sullivan) The little 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine can feel a bit gutless on the open-road, particularly on hills. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The Seltos has been 'tuned' in Australia, so I was happy to find the suspension is pretty good, but it can feel floaty in windy weather.

The steering is direct and it handles corners well with only a little bit of roll. The turning circle (10.6 metres) is awesome.

There is a lot (A LOT) of beeping alerts in this car, though, and it's a bit much. You get an alert when the speed limit changes, when there is a speed/safety camera, when you're too close to the lane lines, when you go over the speed limit (by one km/h), when there is a school zone... the list continues.

And while you can turn some of them off, you'll have to be content with the car being a backseat driver most of the time.

How spacious is it?

For the class, this has a spacious interior but you do find you're still jostling the doors a bit. Headroom and legroom are fine for my 168cm (5'6") height, but if you're taller, you may struggle being in the back seat.

My six-year-old felt a tad cramped in the back seat, which is something to consider if you have older children.

For the class, this has a spacious interior but you do find you’re still jostling the doors a bit. (image: Glen Sullivan) For the class, this has a spacious interior but you do find you’re still jostling the doors a bit. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The storage throughout is about average for this size of SUV but the middle console is nice and deep. Each row gets drink bottle holders in the doors, plus two cupholders. There are some other little cubbies but nothing that breaks the mould.

The boot is a good size with 433L (VDA) of capacity when all seats are in use. Pop the back row down and that jumps up to a healthy 1393L. Impressively, all but the base model, in the Seltos range get a full-size spare tyre.

How easy is it to use every day?

There are no real 'how-do-I's?' in the reliably simple, Seltos.

The door apertures are nice and wide, and the low ground clearance meant my six-year old had total independence this week (yay).

The amenities are decent throughout with both rows enjoying climate control, directional air vents, multiple USB ports and a comfortable armrest that houses the back seat cupholders.

The bench seat is quite hard on the backside, though, and I can imagine adults or teens will fatigue quickly on a road trip. Which is something to consider if you regularly have older passengers!

Parking is simple with the compact size, sensors and reversing camera making it your best friend in a tight carpark. The camera image isn't super crisp, which surprised me as the previous model had a superb camera, but you'll notice it more in dappled light.

How safe is it?

The Sport+ standard safety kit is pretty good with: AEB, forward collision warning with car, pedestrian, cyclist and junction turning detection. As well as, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear occupant alert – which is always handy when you have little ones.

You also get lane keeping aids, driver attention alert, safe exit warning... it's a solid list.

The Seltos only has six airbags, which feels low for 2023, and a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but the testing was done a little while ago in 2019.

The Seltos comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is better than the average for the market. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Seltos comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is better than the average for the market. (image: Glen Sullivan)

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard rear seats and three top-tether anchor points. But realistically, you'll only fit two child seats side-by-side.

It was relatively easy to fit my monster harnessed booster seat but front occupants will lose some space when a 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed.

What's the tech like?

I quite like the tech – its sophisticated without being hard to use, which is a great combo, and something Kia does well.

The curved panoramic display on the dash houses the 10.25-inch multimedia system and the 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and it looks great.

The interior showcases quite a bit of hard plastic but it’s still pleasing to look at. (image: Glen Sullivan) The interior showcases quite a bit of hard plastic but it’s still pleasing to look at. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The media system is easy to use, the touchscreen isn't laggy and the graphics are modern. There's also built-in satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – so you should be sorted for connectivity.

There are two USB-A and two USB-C ports, as well as a 12-volt socket, so all passengers can stay charged up on road trips.

How much does it cost to own?

There are four models to choose from and in the top three grades, you have the option of all-wheel drive variants.

Our model sits roughly in the middle and is a front-wheel-drive. It will cost you $35,800, before on-road costs, and for its features and stylish presence, it's competitive for the market.

There are four models to choose from and in the top three grades, you have the option of all-wheel drive variants. There are four models to choose from and in the top three grades, you have the option of all-wheel drive variants.

Official fuel consumption for the combined cycle is 6.9L/100km and real-world testing saw my figure at 7.6L.

That's after a good mix of urban and open-road driving, which I thought was decent given I tried to wring out as much power as I could. This will suit someone who prioritises fuel economy over performance.

Our model sits roughly in the middle and is a front-wheel-drive. It will cost you $35,800, before on-road costs. Our model sits roughly in the middle and is a front-wheel-drive. It will cost you $35,800, before on-road costs.

The Seltos comes with Kia's seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is better than the average for the market.

There is a seven-year capped-priced servicing program and services average $434 annually, which is competitive. Servicing intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.


The Wrap

The Kia Seltos Sport+ FWD is a decently specified package with its tech and safety features but the engine performance was underwhelming for me. I also didn't love all of the beeping alerts.

But urban dwellers will benefit the most from this little SUV because of its size and handling. I like that it has a roomier interior than a lot of its competitors but would prefer a plusher aesthetic given where it sits in the model range. I give it a 7.5/10.

My son didn't gush over this one because he didn't have as much space as he likes but he did like the panoramic instrument panel because it 'looked cool'. He gave it a 6.0/10.

Likes

Roomy for class
Easy to use tech
Compact handling

Dislikes

Engine performance is underwhelming
Interior a bit basic
Can't turn off some safety alerts

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

3

$33,918 - $48,990

Based on 81 car listings in the last 6 months

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