Tested: Kia Seltos 1.4T GT Line offers style and comfort
Johannesburg - Fighting for attention in a large family doesn't always end well but occasionally your sibling does manage to take some of the limelight, whether you like it or not.
I reckon the same can be said in the motoring world where a plethora of vehicles are jumping up and down for our attention so that we can spend our hard-earned money driving them around.
It's certainly the case in the B SUV market where vehicles such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, Renault Duster, Nissan Qashqai, Suzuki Vitara, Mahindra XUV300, Honda HR-V and Hyundai Creta, to name a few, battle it out for our consideration.
Also in that bunch is the Kia Seltos 1.4T-GDI GT-Line which tops the Seltos range in Kia's stable. It's a bit bigger than most of the opposition, at 4.315m long, 1.8m wide and 1.62m high, so it's got that going for it as well.
Looks, the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder, and here I found the Seltos to be one of the better looking SUVs on the market with its "tiger nose" (no, not Tiger King) grille, headlamps, chrome detailing along the window line and black cladding over the wheel arches.
From behind the skid plate, dual chrome muffler garnish and wide stance gives the Seltos 1.4T-GDI GT-Line a proper SUV look with 17 inch alloys and red brake callipers finishing off the sporty look.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the "D" in 1.4T-GDI denotes an oil burner under the hood but it's in fact Kia's new 1.4 litre T-GDI turbo petrol engine engine. The "Kappa" engine is good for 103kW and 242Nm of torque and is coupled to a seven speed dual clutch transmission driving the front wheels.
There's never been an issue with Kia's build quality and the interior of the Seltos continues to reflect that, especially in the GT Line which has leather upholstery, a sporty flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel, stainless steel-finished pedals and interior mood lighting.
The angular speaker covers provided a nice touch to the overall look and feel of the cabin.
The instrument cluster is almost vertical and takes some getting used to but I did like the fact that the instruments are analogue which sits well in its upmarket surroundings.
The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is one of the easier ones around to read and operate and it's also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
If there's one criticism though it's that the ventilation dials seem a bit low budget.
The GT-Line comes with a new version of Kia's Drive Mode Select system which is accessed via a dial above the gear selector and provides you with a choice of normal, eco and sport options. Normal mode provides three options with snow, mud and sand but given the buyer profile I don't think the Seltos will be doing much more than the occasional gravel road drive.
It's immediately obvious that it's bigger than most of its rivals, with ample headroom both front and back and with the driver's seat set to my preferred setting, I had enough legroom as a passenger to be comfortable on a long journey. There's also a USB port to charge devices so the kids should be happy too.
With 433 litres of boot space there's ample room for luggage and the kids' sport bags. The rear seats split 60:40 and can also fold flat should you need to cart around bigger items.
One of the things that struck me about the 1.4T-GDI GT-Line was the comfortable seats and driving position which with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and rake and reach adjustable steering should make even the most difficult customer comfortable.
The centre bin also doubles up as an armrest with a sliding lid that adds to the long driving journey comfort.
With Covid-19 restrictions in place there aren't many opportunities to head out to the horizon but on a chilly winter's afternoon I decided to put some mileage on the test car and pointed its nose towards the roads around the Cradle of Human Kind.
Back when things were still normal we'd driven the roads regularly when launches weren't virtual and face masks were for bank robbers.
There's a decent mix of twists and turns, gentle bends and long straights and because most picnic spots, lodges and restaurants are still closed there wasn't much traffic either.
The Seltos was never intended to be a tyre-squealing drifter but the suspension set-up keeps it true even when pushed hard with not much body roll. I had it in the sport option and the difference over normal mode is quite noticeable but the auto box proved to be a bit rough, struggling to keep a gear especially under breaking and quick acceleration.
There is a manual option which proved to be handy but again I doubt very much that the average owner is going to be going hell for leather regularly.
At highway cruising speeds though the Seltos is a pleasure to drive with almost no cabin noise intrusions and a general premium driving impression.
Fuel consumption over the week was just slightly over 8L/100km well above Kia's claimed 6.3L/100km.
Safety in the 1.4T-GDI GT Line is taken care of with six airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist and electronic stability control.
The Kia Seltos 1.4T-GDI GT-Line offers a lot in terms of style and comfort and would be a welcome addition to any family's garage but at R471 995 in a strange new world, its 1.6 EX+ Auto sibling is likely to be the go to option, at R416 995. The range starts at R380 995.
The variety in that price category also gives prospective buyers an almost unlimited number of options ranging from double cabs to SUVs.
The Seltos comes with an unlimited five-year unlimited kilometre warranty including roadside assist and a five-year/90 000km service plan.