UNIQUE DESIGN: The new Seltos has a chunky shape that's at the forefront of small SUV design.

By Alistair Kennedy, Marque Motoring

Seltos is the second smallest model in Kia’s SUV range, sitting above the compact Stonic and below the Sportage. It competes against vehicles such as the MG ZS, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30 and Mitsubishi ASX.

Originally launched here in late 2019 Seltos received a major upgrade in November 2022 with exterior and interior changes, safety improvements, new tech features, plus extra power and a new transmission for the top-spec model.

The changes do come at a price with increases of at least $2200 across the range, although they can probably be justified.

As before Seltos is available in four grades: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT Line.

All get the previous 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine that drives the front wheels, while Sport+ and GT-Line are also available with a tweaked version of the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine along with all-wheel drive.

To our eyes Seltos is one of the best-looking vehicles in its class, with the chunky style that’s fashionable in current SUVs.

There’s a large grille with mesh fill, an array of lights built to the side and stylish lower area that has a solid look thanks to the expansion at the corners.

At the rear there’s a central light-bar across the top of the tail gate that expands the visual appearance of the Seltos.

All models get alloy wheels, 16-inch with the Seltos S, 17-inch on the Sport and Sport+ and 18-inch under the GT-Line.

Also standard are body-coloured folding side mirrors, roof rails and a rear spoiler.

Only the GT-Line gets LED head and tail lights, the others have to make do with halogens.

Other features specific to the GT-Line are a gloss black mech grille, satin silver beltline, powered tailgate and tilt and slide sunroof.

There’s a good range of colours, with nine in total, including a couple of eye-catching two-tone finishes.

Kia always seems to strike a nice balance with the interior of its vehicles and Seltos is no exception.

It’s neat and functional with plenty of space all round for what is a relatively small car.

The standout feature of the dashboard in Sport, Sport+ and Gt-Line is the wide panel housing both the infotainment and instrument display screens.

An increasingly must-have feature for us, head-up display, is only available in the GT-Line.

On the downside, while there are small physical knobs for the audio controls, air conditioning adjustments for temperature and fan speed require a series of taps on the infotainment touchscreen.

Seats in the S and Sport are cloth trim, with artificial leather trim added to the Sport+ and full premium leather in GT-Line.

Luggage space with the rear seats in place is 433 litres, expanding to 1393 litres when they’re folded.

Seltos S has a space saver spare under the boot.

All other variants get a full-size alloy.

All four Seltos variants come with a four-cylinder 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle naturally-aspirated engine that’s carried over from the previous model.

It produces 110 kW and 180 Nm at 4500 rpm coupled with a continuously variable transmission.

Combined fuel consumption is listed at 6.9L/100km.

The big improvement comes from the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol available with Sport+ and GT-Line where power increases 16 kW to 146 kW with an unchanged 265 Nm of torque.

Claimed fuel consumption is 7.4L/100km.

The previous dual-clutch automatic transmission mated to the 1.6 engine has been replaced by an eight-speed torque converter auto that supplies drive to all four wheels through an on-demand AWD system.

Kia Seltos comes with an impressive list of advanced safety features including rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, blind spot collision avoidance, driver inattention alert, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, with impact-sensing automatic door unlocking.

In addition, all models get downhill brake control, front and rear parking sensors and two Isofix child seat anchor points.

Another very useful feature is Safe Exit Alert which warns if a vehicle is passing within a distance that could impact your doors.

Also very useful – in its place – is Intelligent Speed Limit Assist.

While we have no problem in principle with a feature that alerts a driver to the fact they are exceeding the speed limit, it’s far too sensitive in the Seltos coming on and off regularly when driving in a stream of traffic at the appropriate speed.

The system can be turned off via the touchscreen but that requires going through five screen taps.

Then it automatically resets when the engine is turned off and on again.

Sport+ and GT-Line also come with auto-dimming rear view mirror, lead vehicle departure alert and junction turning assist.

Entry-level Seltos S comes with an 8.0-inch LCD infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard and a 4.2-inch driver information screen behind the steering wheel.

The set-up in the three other models is much more attractive and functional with a pair of 10.25-inch screens embedded within a single panel that dominates the centre of the dashboard.

The instrument panel can be configured to the driver’s taste to control or monitor numerous features.

New to MY22 Seltos Sport, Sport+ and Gt-Line is Kia Connect, a smartphone-based system that offers a wide range of digital features including the ability to remotely lock and unlock doors, start the engine, activate and adjust air conditioning, set satellite navigation destinations and display vehicle diagnostic information.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard although, oddly enough, they are wireless in the Seltos S but wired in the three higher-spec’d models.

Our contact at Kia Australia explains the absence of satnav in S allowed wireless charging to be fitted but prevented it in the others.

The three lower-spec’d variants get a pretty good six-speaker sound system, with GT-Line stepping up to a premium eight-speaker BOSE system.

All but the S also have Sounds of Nature which provides a choice of soothing sounds as an alternative to radio or music.

At the other extreme Sound Mood Lamp turns on disco lighting around the cabin to suit whatever music is being played.

There are USB-A and USB-C sockets in the front console and a pair of USB-Cs behind the centre console.

Our test vehicle was the Seltos Sport+ with the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and new eight-speed torque-convertor automatic.

The first thing we noticed on take-off was how much smoother it was compared to the previous seven-speed dual-clutch system.

The upgraded 146kW engine has plenty of punch with minimal turbo lag off the line.

The steering feel is excellent and really does signal to the driver what is happening at the front of the car.

Multiple changes of direction on a twisting country road are made with ease.

It’s a neat little car to ride in and is generally as smooth and quiet as cars of this size around town.

However, it creates quite a racket on some motorway concrete surfaces and isn’t overly happy on country roads that are in poor condition.

As with all Kia models in Australia, the ride and handling characteristics of the car have been optimised to provide the experience Australian drivers have come to expect.

Kia has been steadily moving up the Australian sales ladder and now sits in a career-best third position.

While it’s still relatively new Seltos already accounts for around 11 per cent of company sales.

The recent refresher keeps it right up there with the best in a highly-competitive market segment.

As with all Kia vehicles Seltos is covered by the company’s seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty together with seven years of capped price servicing and roadside assistance.