When the Kia Seltos made its debut, we were impressed by its pricing and standard equipment list. For a shade over one million Pesos, it sure packed a lot for the money. For their first anniversary (under Ayala management), Kia took us on a 600 kilometer road trip with all the variants of the Seltos. Yes, we've driven it before and we've shared what we thought of the entry-level LX variant, and the impressions were very good.
So this epic road trip was a little bit different. Instead of finding what we liked and didn't about it, which we already did before, I thought I'd dig deeper as to what makes it such a competent car.
See, the Seltos isn't just designed for one region. As Kia put it, it's a car for the world so not only does it have to have a high standard here in Asia, it must meet the demands and exceptions of the global market as well. What makes this even more difficult for Kia is the fact that it has to be competitively priced around the world too. Ask any car company just how difficult it is to pack value in a car and make it to the standards worldwide. They'll explain to you just how much work and overtime their teams have to put into developing, engineering, and marketing such a vehicle.
With that short but challenging brief in mind, Kia really did pull out all the stops for the Seltos. It's something you feel the moment you get in it. Yes, there's hard plastic just about everywhere in this small crossover, but it makes up for it the moment you start touching dials and buttons in it. There's a satisfying feeling when you press a button in there and it doesn't feel like you're pressing something built to a price. There's a solid, tactile feel that gives you the impression you're in a car more expensive than the price tag suggests. It's all about touch points in the Seltos, and Kia got it spot on.
Then there's the equipment list and it's comprehensive from the get go. We've covered it before with the base LX and it gets a comprehensive infotainment system that not only plays music files, but also displays vehicle status and vehicle options. But perhaps what makes this infotainment system even more competitive is the fact that it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The fact that it's standard even in the entry-level model shows that Kia Philippines' product planners are thinking ahead of the tech curve as well. It also makes the Seltos LX an attractive value proposition too at Php 1,098,000.
The higher-spec models simply add more icing on the cake. The mid-level EX for instance adds LED daytime running lights, fog lights, exterior enhancements and cruise control adds Php 100,000 to the base price (Php 1,198,000). The top-spec SX on the other hand gains stability control, side airbags, full LED headlights, and push-start for an extra Php 400,000 on top of the base LX's price (Php 1,498,000). Sure, that may seem steep but equipment levels are comparable to the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, and Subaru XV. The only thing I wish the Seltos had was rear air-conditioning vents and stability control for the EX variant at the very least.
Once you get moving, you'll be surprised that the Seltos rides comfortably. It's not wallowy either, which is a trait commonly associated with soft-riding cars. You can tell that engineers and test drivers spent years toiling over how it should ride over bumps. What's even more surprising is the fact that it can cling on to corners despite the inclination towards comfort. Sure it doesn't have the most communicative steering, but drives well nonetheless. So Kia didn't just stuff the car full of features, they fine-tuned the underchassis too.
On to the engine and it's a surprise Kia was able to put in a 2.0-liter mill at its starting price point. Again, I wish it had better throttle response but it picks up and goes once you give it more motivation. Despite the engine size, it's efficient as we rarely saw it dip below 10 kilometers per liter in the course of 600 kilometers.
Also helping it is the transmission, which Kia calls IVT. Fundamentally, it's a CVT and Kia themselves said so. The thing is, Kia added 'shift points' to make it feel like an automatic and it really does. Developing tech like that doesn't come cheap, which makes the value proposition of the car even more outstanding.
I can't help but give Kia a pat on the back for the Seltos. It's well-equipped, suspension tuning is good, practical, efficient, and great value. It's not just a good car for the price; it's a good car, full stop. That price of entry is simply icing on the cake.