February 13, 2020 By Paolo de Borja Photos by Nicolas Calanoc

2020 Kia Seltos: a promising subcompact crossover

Beaming with Youth

Maneuverable and stylish yet capable of a little ruggedness – these are modern crossovers for you. The versatility in the pond of vehicles in the subcompact crossover segment make it a hit to modern consumers. Car buyers are now smarter, meticulously looking at what each product has to offer for their hard-earned money.

Enter the all-new 2020 Kia Seltos.

The newcomer from Korea is one of the fresh offerings (joined by the Soluto and Stinger GT) by Kia Philippines since its acquisition by AC Industrials early in 2019. The C! Team had the chance to get behind the wheel of the Seltos in a Ride and Drive with the brand to celebrate its first anniversary in the Philippines. The drive to Baler had a good balance of city, highway, and twisty roads – enough to get some decent first driving impressions on the crossover.

The Seltos is offered in three variants for the local market: LX (PhP 1,098,000), EX (PhP 1,198,000), and SX (PhP 1,505,000). The subcompact crossover flaunts a youthful exterior design all-around. One of the aspects  initially catching our eyes was the front design. The exterior shares some design notes with the rest of the Kia lineup, like the front ‘Tiger’ grille. At night, the Seltos reveals its true beauty. Available on the EX and SX are LED daytime running lights (DRLs). Now, we usually just see DRLs placed within the headlights. For the Seltos, however, DRLs are extended beyond it. Thin strips of LED DRLs are installed from both headlights and above the grille, separated only by the badge in the middle. And we must say that it was nice admiring the car on the rear-view mirror at night. While LED headlights are only available for the top trim, LED bulbs equip the EX as well. Fitted across the range are 17-inch alloy wheels. The crossover also has a floating roof design, adding to its unique and youthful character.

Inside, the Seltos is well-equipped with a bunch of useful features for a car in this class. Yes, all variants come with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 8-inch infotainment system. As we live in a time when connection is everything, such features are most welcome. We particularly found the system’s ability to connect multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time extremely useful. A must in long road trips. Even with multiple smartphones connected, it was simple to switch from one to the other. Cars nowadays are packed with tons of technology, but their ease-of-operation are not always on-point to say the least. The Seltos’ multimedia display deserves praise for fitting all the bells and whistles without compromising user experience.

Now, subcompact crossovers aren’t normally known for their generous headroom and legroom but the Seltos has something else to say about that. Both the front row and second row spaces didn’t make us feel cramped throughout the 282-kilometer drive to Baler. There was ample room for knees and heads – a commendable observation for a vehicle in this segment. We wish there were air-conditioning vents and at least a USB port for the second-row passengers, however. Sure, there’s also an abundance of hard plastic in the interior but we also need to keep our expectations at bay considering the segment it belongs to and the price. Also, the rear seats recline from 26 to 32 degrees for the comfort of passengers.

All three variants of the Kia Seltos are fitted with a 2.0-liter Dual-CVVT Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine capable of making 148 bhp and 132 lb-ft. of torque. Its Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) is no marketing scheme as well. Kia’s take on the Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) still provides the fuel economy and smoothness we look for in a conventional CVT, but more responsive. The difference was quite evident in overtaking situations along national highways and the twisties leading up to Baler. Steering on the Seltos is quite light for car guys like us as we found ourselves correcting a lot in the zigzag, mountainous roads. But for more conventional drivers who intend to use take it on daily drives in tight urban roads, it will probably be a positive note. We found it to be pretty helpful once we got back to the city at night.

The new distributor of Kia in the country has made significant leaps in just a year. As evidence, the Soluto is one of the more underrated cars in its class and returning models like the Sportage, Sorento, and Grand Carnival have seen some upgrades since then. Kia Philippines’ new baby in the Seltos enters the market with a lot of promise because of its package as a whole. And it might just be the vehicle that will propel the brand even further in the country. With its distinctive design, technology, and promising ride, the all-new 2020 Kia Seltos looks to impress in a hotly-contested subcompact crossover segment.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4, 1999 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection, Atkinson-Cycle, Dual-CVVT, CVT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 147 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 132 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Performance

Top Speed 185 km/h (115 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 11.8 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 12.8 L/100km Overall

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,498,000.00
What's Great Stylish and good looking, spacious for the segment, quiet cabin, well-equipped with features
What's Not So Steering could be firmer, lack rear air-conditioning vents and USB port
C! Editors Rating 9/10
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