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Kia Seltos 2023 review: GT-Line long-term | Part 2

Space is ample in the Kia Seltos GT-Line. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

To paraphrase a (traditionally pretty naughty) saying, it's not so much the size that matters in the new-car world, but more what you can do with it.

It doesn't matter if you're rolling in a Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series or a pint-sized Kia Picanto, it's how well your vehicle is packaged that will count over the long term, with the general adage being that too much space is never enough.

Enter, then, the Kia Seltos, the not-so-small small SUV. And this month I've made a discovery.

It’s weird, I know, but for a vehicle so overtly designed for city life, I think the Kia Seltos is at its best when you’ve escaped the confines of the urban jungle and you’re out on the open road.

While there is a lot to like about the surprisingly sizeable Seltos, there have been a couple of little quirks in the city.

For one, power delivery from the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol paired with the eight-speed 'Sports Automatic' is ample, but it isn’t always silky smooth.

The Kia Seltos is at its best when you’re out on the open road. (Image: Andrew Chesterton) The Kia Seltos is at its best when you’re out on the open road. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

While it settles down over the course of your drive, cold winter mornings are not your friend, and it can feel a little jumpy and lumpy moving through the lower gears.

I haven’t driven the other powertrain yet — which pairs a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine with a CVT auto — but I’d like to, if only to see how the more budget-friendly choice compares to this one.

My other bug bear remains the fuel use, which is still surprisingly high. A friend of mine drives a 2014 Subaru Forester, a much larger car, and yet he’s consistently returning better fuel numbers than I am, with the Seltos seemingly marooned in the 12L/100km-plus range.

The Seltos is very doable for smaller families who don’t want to step up to a Sportage or Sorento. (Image: Andrew Chesterton) The Seltos is very doable for smaller families who don’t want to step up to a Sportage or Sorento. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

That hurts a bit at the moment, to be honest. To keep the math simple, let’s say unleaded fuel is around $2.00 a litre. That means it's costing me around $24 to travel 100km. Or to put it another way, a trip from Sydney to Canberra (around 280km) would be more than $65.

There is good news, though. Most, if not all, Kia vehicles are happy to drink the cheapest petrol possible, whether that’s 91RON or an ethanol blend, so you can always reach for the cheapest pump at whatever service station you’re in.

This month I’m also putting it to the long-distance test, heading off on a longer trip from the Sydney CBD to the Southern Highlands and the NSW South Coast, mostly to see how the Seltos performs when its legs are stretched.

The Seltos can feel a little jumpy and lumpy moving through the lower gears. (Image: Andrew Chesterton) The Seltos can feel a little jumpy and lumpy moving through the lower gears. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

The first thing you notice here is the space on offer. We’ve mentioned before that not all small SUVs are created equal, and the Seltos is definitely one that leans closer to a mid-size set-up in terms of cargo space and room for passengers.

Ours delivers some 433 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place, and that number swells to 1393 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

But with our dog - who, and prepare your eyes for maximum rolling, travels in her own blanket-wrapped seat that sits above the rear bench - we can only use the boot for carrying stuff. 

The Seltos offers 433 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place. (Image: Andrew Chesterton) The Seltos offers 433 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

Don’t get me wrong, they're not massive numbers. But for us, that still means plenty of luggage room for the endless procession of bags, pillows (honestly, my wife seemingly lives in fear that any holiday rental we choose will have been hit by a very specific type of robber the night before we arrive, with the masked bandits walking past the television and anything else of actual value and instead stuffing every pillow in the place into their stealing sacks), and all the other bits and bobs that make up a long weekend away.

There’s room for the dog, of course, and a passenger or two, and I’m left with the view that the Seltos is very doable for smaller families who don’t want to step up to a Sportage or Sorento.

Equally, it’s a super-competent long distance hauler. The safety stuff includes a good active cruise control system, the seats are heated or cooled for a little extra comfort, and the cabin itself is comfy, tech-laden and easy to settle into for the long haul.

The Seltos would be a near-perfect small SUV with a hybrid powertrain on board. (Image: Andrew Chesterton) The Seltos would be a near-perfect small SUV with a hybrid powertrain on board. (Image: Andrew Chesterton)

It also helps with fuel use, of course, with the Seltos locked into higher gears and lower revs for longer, meaning less fuel is required than in the city.

Think of ICE cars as the exact opposites of EVs - the latter are at their least efficient on the freeway, where there’s no regenerative braking to help recoup power, but the opposite is true of a petrol-powered car.

Still, you can’t shake the feeling that this would be a near-perfect small SUV with a hybrid powertrain on board, which would deliver all the practicality perks — not to mention the stacked equipment list of our GT-Line — only with miserly fuel use as a bonus. 

Make it so, Kia!

Acquired: April

Distance travelled this month: 620km

Odometer: 2913km

Average energy consumption this month: 11.5L/100km

$33,918 - $51,990

Based on 93 car listings in the last 6 months

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