Why would I buy it?
- Refreshing turbo-power
- Useful new features in a spacious cabin
- Level-2 ADAS suite
Why would I avoid it?
- No drastic design changes
- Manual version not available in top-of-the-line variants
What is it?
7.5 / 10
The 2023 Kia Seltos is a facelifted version that gets a new turbo-petrol engine, added features, and new tech. Besides, the cosmetic changes are in line with its international model and here are our first impressions of this updated SUV.
In terms of dimensions, although it is lengthy by 50mm, its proportions remain similar. The stance, too, is the same but the face has undergone a facelift with an updated grille, and tweaked LED headlamps and DRLs. Moreover, its restyled front bumper appears more rugged with large vents and a skid plate. The changes to the front might look complex but add an extra dimension to the design and enhance its overall appearance. Similar is the case at the back which gets L-shaped LED taillamps with LED light bars extending to the logo in the centre. To further spice things up, its rear bumper gets a grey insert and a faux skid plate (dual exhaust tips for turbo-petrol models). Other than the blue shade that we have here, the Pewter Olive exterior colour is a unique addition. For more exclusivity, there’s the matte graphite shade in the X Line.
How is the facelifted Kia Seltos inside?
8 / 10
Although the overall layout and space remain unchanged from the outgoing model, there are many things that bring an upmarket feel to the cabin. The dashboard now looks sleeker and more modern with the dual-screen setup. Another update includes new upholstery materials, all of which look and feel premium. That said, the trim line and the variant chosen decide the combination of colours (black, brown, beige, sage green) and the pattern (tubular, geometric, chevron) inside. Our variant-wise interior explained story will help in providing details. In pictures here, it’s the all-black one for the GT Line.
Furthermore, this new feel-good factor is backed by ample space, comfort, and convenience. The visibility outside remains good and the front seats continue to be supportive. Like the outgoing model, there’s ample headroom and knee-room here as well. Even in the second row, there's plenty of room and it feels airier due to the large panoramic sunroof. One doesn't sit too low but still has sufficient under-thigh support, good knee-room, and enough space in the footwell to stretch legs. Then, the new Seltos continues to get storage spaces, cup- and bottle-holders, with the top-spec trims even getting an additional sliding cover in the centre console. Neatly done! Meanwhile, boot space is still the same at 433-litre, which is great.
The most notable upgrades are in terms of new features and ADAS. The Seltos gets an immaculately designed digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment head unit, both of which clearly display a ton of vital information. Be it the driving info, ADAS, new side cameras, 360-degree view, or even voice commands (including Hinglish), all are displayed right in front and with easy-to-access controls. In fact, the GT line’s head-up display will add to your convenience with more details now. Even the air purifier’s screen has been upgraded with a new UI and integrated controls. Kia India deserves appreciation for equipping the SUV with a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 360-degree camera, and an eight-way adjustable driver seat, apart from ventilated front seats and ambient lighting. Now, a cooled wireless charging pad is good, but a cooled glove box, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and automatic tailgate would have further added to the delight.
Nevertheless, the Seltos now gets Level 2 ADAS. With this, six airbags are now standard and the car gets parking sensors, ESC, traction control, and TPMS, among others. We have already detailed its safety suite which includes 15 standard and 17 advanced adaptive features. Then, adaptive cruise control with lane assist and automatic braking will be useful for owners wanting some sort of semi-autonomous tech. Also worth mentioning is that front and rear collision avoidance assist were amongst the systems that worked effectively in the demos that were offered in a closed and controlled environment.
Is the facelifted Kia Seltos good to drive?
7 / 10
The carmaker is offering the Seltos with 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines, including a new turbo-petrol option. And the transmission options include a six-speed manual and automatic. The diesel counterpart is one of the few refined and quiet oil burners on sale currently. However, here we shall focus on the new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol that fills in the shoes of the 1.4 unit. This one comes with either an iMT or a seven-speed DCT like we sampled.
The ‘Smartstream G1.5 T-GDi’ is rated at 158bhp at 5,500rpm and 253Nm of torque between 1,500-3,500rpm. This mill is silent at idle and doesn’t sound bad even when revved hard. Upon launch, you won’t be pinned back into the seat, but there’s quick progress for a claimed sub-10 second 0-100kmph sprint time. In fact, this combination of a powerful motor and the dual-clutch gearbox has helped it record a faster time of 8.9 seconds as compared to the 1.4’s 9.8 seconds.
The drive (Eco, Normal, Sport) and traction modes (Sand, Mud, Snow) have been retained too. And in any mode, it’s quite a tractable engine with good drivability. The initial turbo lag can be felt but the gearbox tries to mask it well. Nevertheless, there’s enough grunt to get going, with the Normal drive mode feeling quite apt for everyday driving. For quicker responses, there’s Sport mode, and one can even use the paddle shifters to gain control, especially when overtaking or making quick sprints amidst traffic.
Plus, the in-gear acceleration is better now, with the claimed roll-on times suggesting 20-50kmph of 2.1 seconds as against the 1.4’s 2.5 seconds. Then, the 60-100kmph takes 4.8 seconds, which is relatively faster than the 1.4’s 5.7 seconds. It indeed is a good highway runner and can provide relaxed cruising, thanks to the ample torque. It does 80kmph around 1,500rpm and 100kmph at 2,000rpm while keeping the load on the engine minimal. Besides, this E20-compatible powerplant is not only high in performance but mileage too. Lest we forget, idle start-stop has been added as well to improve fuel efficiency (ARAI-claimed 17.9kmpl).
The steering is light with three turns lock-to-lock but requires a good amount of effort, especially while parking. That said, it feels nice on the move with a well-weighted feel that has been optimised along with the suspension. Despite the firm ride, body roll is still evident. However, this Seltos comes with increased front dampening and reduced rear dampening forces which have improved comfort on rough roads with lesser thuds heard inside. The shock absorption feels much better as well.
Should you buy the facelifted Kia Seltos?
7.5 / 10
The Kia Seltos was always a compelling option in the segment that includes the Hyundai Creta, MG Astor, and now the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, Skoda Kushaq, and Volkswagen Taigun. It will also compete with the Honda Elevate and the Citroen C3 Aircross soon. This facelift provides all features that current Seltos owners missed or demanded, making it a better-rounded package.
Starting at the same entry-level price of Rs. 10.89 lakh (ex-showroom), Kia has made a smart move to attract buyers, even though the top-spec X Line costs Rs. 19.99 lakh. With several trims like Tech Line, GT Line, and the top-spec X Line, there are 18 variants that customers can choose from. It might be confusing but a closer look at the feature list will help you decide. And that means a good amount of equipment at different price points. Regarding which variant to suggest, for ADAS, one will have to opt for the top-spec ones. Otherwise, the mid-spec HTK+ is a good value-for-money option with essential features that will let you boast of a new-age SUV with modern tech and equipment.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi