Kia Seltos in Starbright Yellow
On the road

First drives: Kia Seltos

Key points:

  • Awarded Best Small SUV Under $40,000

  • Generous rear cargo space

  • 5 star ANCAP safety rating

  • From $30,000 driveaway

The Small SUV category is growing at a rapid rate as the Australian public continues to demand this type of vehicle. The Kia Seltos Sport was released on the Australian market in October last year and made an almost immediate impact, being awarded Best Small SUV Under $40,000 in Australia’s Best Cars.

From just a few years ago when there was a mere handful of vehicles in this category, it has now exploded with quality offerings including the newly released Mazda CX30, Skoda Karoq, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V and Seltos’ cousin Hyundai Kona.

While I liked the exterior styling and stance of the vehicle, my wife was less convinced. Where we agreed was the interior. For a variant one level above base specification, it had a premium feel to it. Cloth seats were wide and comfortable, plastic materials were soft to touch in most areas and external vision was excellent.

Despite being classed in the small category, there is no reason you couldn’t accommodate four adult passengers in comfort all day. Rear cargo space is also generous, and it houses a full-size alloy spare under the floor. As typical with SUVs, getting in and out was easy with wide door openings and seat height almost perfect for my above-average frame.

Technology and safety are well taken care of, starting with a huge 10.25” LCD touchscreen for the infotainment system, all the required connectivity options, single climate control, electric park brake, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and driver attention alert among an extensive safety list. ANCAP has awarded Seltos a 2019 five-star rating.

The Seltos Sport is a front-wheel drive model with a 2.0L petrol engine combined with a CVT auto. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 6.8L/100km, although a couple of weeks I averaged 7.9L/100km, which is more than reasonable given the amount of urban driving I do.

I’m not a huge fan of CVT autos, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the Seltos. Around town it’s smooth and efficient, and when you approach a hill or make a quick getaway off the line, you don’t experience the flaring elastic engine revving common on some CVTs. It provides stepped shift points, giving a very good impression of a traditional auto gearbox. Spin the knob to sport and it becomes even more responsive.

I tried eco-mode and, as I’ve found with other vehicles, throttle response can leave you anxious when you want to make a quick exit from an intersection. Seltos is also available in all-wheel drive, albeit with a completely different drivetrain comprising 1.6L turbo with seven-speed DSG auto.

On the road, Seltos ticks all the right boxes.

Tyre, engine and wind noise is well suppressed from occupants, the steering finds the right balance between city and country driving, while ride comfort and handling are well sorted thanks to some fettling by Kia’s Australian-based suspension team.

For a vehicle that you can drive away for just on $30,000, with a seven-year warranty and a vast array of standard technology, comfort and safety features, it offers a lot of value and is difficult to fault. If there was one more thing I’d like, it would be keyless entry and start, which is available on the higher spec models.