The Kia Seltos has been among the most popular cars in its category in India, since its launch in 2019. The mid-sized urban SUV is just as well suited to city driving as on the highway, but what has truly worked for the car in India is its feature-heavy approach to the market. Various features such as Kia Connect (previously known as UVO) and autonomous safety tricks built into the car have helped set the Kia Seltos apart from the strong competition in the segment.
Kia has now unveiled the 2023 facelift for the Kia Seltos, which comes with further improvements to the already rich feature set of the car, along with a new premium ‘X-line' trim, and improved engine and transmission options across variants. I had a chance to drive the new Kia Seltos and check out the features during a drive from Nagpur to the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, and here are some of the key highlights of Kia's new mid-sized Seltos.
The Kia Seltos (2023) X-line comes in a new Matte Graphite colour and finish
Kia Seltos (2023) price in India, variants
The Kia Seltos (2023) is priced from Rs. 10.90 lakh to Rs. 19.99 lakh rupees (ex-showroom) in India, depending on the variant. The price depends on the engine, transmission, and trim options, with variants ranging from the entry-level HTE trim to the new top X-line, which is the only one available in the new Matte Graphite colour. Other colour options include the new Pewter Olive, along with various other glossy metallic colours.
Available in Petrol, Diesel, and Turbo Petrol variants across trims, you can also choose between different transmission options, including manual, iMT (clutchless manual), and three automatic variants such as CVT, torque converter, and DCT. Some variants also have manual override through paddle shifters. For my drive, I had the Kia Seltos (2023) GT-line with the Turbo Petrol engine in Pewter Olive, which comes with all major safety and tech-related features.
Kia Seltos (2023): Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) wants to take care of you
With a renewed focus on safety, the Kia Seltos puts its ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) at the forefront of its feature offerings, apart from having six airbags and disc brakes on all four wheels as standard across all variants. ADAS is available in various cars at different levels ranging from 0 (no automation) to 5 (full automation), and the Kia Seltos slots in at ADAS Level 2, which is able to offer some level of hands-off automation and control.
This being the first time I drove a car with any level of automation, I found the experience a little bit scary at first, with the ADAS functionality somewhat controlling the car for me in certain situations, which was a bit eerie. There are 17 functions that utilise ADAS on the Kia Seltos (2023), most of which you'll hope to never have to see put to use, such as forward collision warning and forward collision assistance.
Other ADAS features were showcased in safe test environments during the drive, while some of the smaller inclusions could be constantly seen at work during the few hours I drove the Seltos. All of this is backed by a 360-degree camera system, which provides clear views all around the car, functioning while driving as well as in slow-moving situations such as when parking.
In the safe testing environments, trained Kia drivers demonstrated how the car would autonomously apply brakes, issue loud audio warnings, or autonomously counter-steer in situations where a collision was imminent, either with another car or even in situations where a door was opened while a vehicle was approaching along the side.
There are two 10.25-inch displays in the Kia Seltos - one for the infotainment system, and the second for the digital instrument cluster
I personally was able to see features such as lane-keep assist, blind-spot collision assist, and smart cruise control in action myself while driving. On multi-lane highways with well marked lanes, the Kia Seltos (2023) managed to maintain its lane much of the time, occasionally prompting me with physical feedback to make minor steering corrections. The fully-digital instrument cluster displayed the blind-spot clearly when indicating left or right, while the cruise control managed to vary its speed based on that of the car ahead of me when needed.
As mentioned earlier, it was a bit nerve-wracking when these features first started working for me, since I haven't typically been used to my car acting on its own, even if it's for my safety. That said, I got used to most of it soon enough, and to be fair, I continued to have primary control over the car at all times, with it only providing faint feedback through the wheel. That said, the Driver Attention Warning chimes every 15 minutes telling you to stop for coffee which got tiring very quickly.
Kia Seltos (2023): Kia Connect, voice commands, and big screens
Kia Connect is something I've tested previously on the Kia Sonet when it was still called Kia UVO, and things have improved a fair bit since then. This is mainly because of the large 10.25-inch touch infotainment system lining up next to the equal-sized digital instrument cluster. These two together give the Kia Seltos quite the futuristic look and feel, apart from putting a whole lot of information about the car within easy view.
While you have the option to connect your smartphone via USB for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto UI and functionality, you can just as easily rely on the Kia Connect system. The car has a fully connected system, relying on its own data connection to work with functions such as voice commands, detailed mapping for navigation, and more. I was able to navigate to major points of interest and give voice commands reliably, even in relatively remote areas such as the Pench tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
For music, you can connect various devices either through wired or wireless connections, with the Kia Seltos (2023) sporting a Bose speaker system on the variant I was driving. Sound quality was expectedly decent even over a Bluetooth connection, and there were also some interesting ambient soundtracks preloaded onto the Kia connect system for quiet, peaceful listening.
The Kia Seltos (2023) now comes with a 1.5L turbo petrol engine option, offering 158bhp and 253Nm of torque, and mated to an optional DCT automatic gearbox
The Kia Connect app also lets you view data about the car such as fuel range, status, and location, apart from remotely staring and stopping the car even when you aren't sitting in it. Other tech-focused features include full diagnostics for the car and the ADAS features which can be controlled through the screens, navigation set up through the smartphone with instructions sent to the car, remote climate control, and a handy air purifier built into the car to ensure you're breathing clean air when in the Seltos.
The voice commands work to control most car functions, such as opening the panoramic sunroof, navigating to specific locations and points of interest, turning on or off the air conditioning, and opening or closing the windows, among other things. There were occasions where I had to repeat myself, but the voice commands usually got it right. Notably, these work not only in English, but also in bilingual (Hindi with English), with commands such as ‘sunroof kholo' or ‘AC band karo' working reliably.
Kia Seltos (2023): How is it to drive?
The Kia Seltos (2023) is available in three different engine variants, with different transmission options linked to specific variants. I had the new turbo petrol variant for my test drive, which is the most capable in terms of brake horsepower and torque output, making it the most powerful of the three variants. This was mated to an automatic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), with paddle shifters offering a manual override for the occasions where I wanted to take some control.
The car is fairly capable and responsive in both city and highway conditions, thanks to the smooth and easy shifts from the DCT gearbox. It was also fairly responsive to throttle variations, and managed to set itself up well even on inclines such as hilly roads, where automatic transmissions sometimes feel sluggish and out of sorts. The manual override was a nice option to have, but even when overtaking on the highway, I rarely ever felt the need to invoke it; simply putting my foot down sent the message, and the Kia Seltos managed to deliver enough power both in the city and on the highway.
All of this is handled smoothly, with the Kia Seltos (2023) feeling almost sedan-like in the ride it offers. When cruising at around 70-80 kmph on the highway in seventh gear, the Seltos was at its absolute best, offering a smooth ride with the low revs ensuring good fuel efficiency. The DCT gearbox is nimble enough to quickly switch up as needed, setting me up quickly for lane changes and overtaking as needed.
Car safety is an increasingly important factor in purchase decisions for buyers in India, and the Kia Seltos (2023) promises a lot more of that thanks to its ADAS Level-2 feature set. Apart from protecting you from potentially serious accidents, the Seltos is also well set up to prevent even small and typically avoidable incidents, thanks to its impressive 360-degree camera setup and various assistance features such as lane keep assist and blind-spot assistance. Some ADAS features such as Driver Attention Warning were a bit bothersome, but you can disable the various ADAS features as per your preferences.
Technologically, this is among the best cars in its price segment right now, representing the future of connected driving and giving drivers a taste of the future in the form of minor automation aimed at making the overall driving experience safer and easier. Features such as voice controls for car functions and navigation, as well as the Kia Connect app and interface for vehicle diagnostics, make the experience a lot better.
All of this is backed up by a great driving experience on the whole. That said, with such a wide price range across variants of the Kia Seltos, you'll have to make sure you pick the variant that actually has everything you need. The well-equipped variants cost considerably more than the basic ones; the top-end X-line variants cost nearly twice as much as the entry-level variant.
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