Only about a week ago, the Korean automotive giant Kia Motors (only the second largest in the country, following Hyundai) premiered its newest subcompact crossover SUV, the Seltos, to the world from New Delhi, India. The midsize SUV market in the country has developed quite the following of its own, with cars such as the Hyundai Creta and the Mahindra XUV500 doing extremely well in their segments.

Entering into this hotly contested segment might be considered as a huge risk for someone only just establishing themselves in the Indian (as well as the world) automotive market. Kia, however, has packed the Seltos with a host of features, many of them a first for its segment, so as to enable it to not only hold its own but potentially dominate the midsized SUV market in India. Being 4315mm long and 1620mm high (with a wheelbase of 2610mm), the Kia Seltos is decently sized, a bit longer than the Hyundai Creta but nowhere as big as the colossal Hector in its class. It also has a spacious enough boot, with a capacity of 433 litres, as well as an impressive ground clearance of 190mm.

If you take a look at the Seltos from the outside, it looks like a perfectly balanced subcompact SUV, not too big, nor too small to be encumbering on the inside. Based largely on the SP Concept that was on display at the Delhi Auto Show last year, Kia has made only certain minor changes in the design such as with respect to the hood in order to comply with safety regulations. On the front, the Seltos has an imposing tiger-nosed grille placed above a mesh grille that is centrally located on the bumper. The design is bit quirky in front, with the headlights being clustered in an interesting manner and with the fog lights being mounted vertically. At the back though, there isn’t much to make the Seltos stand out from others in its segment.

Kia Motors has offered a number of engine and gearbox options for the Seltos, both for the petrol as well as for the diesel versions of the car. There is a 115hp 1.5-litre engine available in petrol (with the option of a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT) and diesel (with the option of a 6-speed torque convertor), as well as a 140hp 1.4-litre turbo charged petrol engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and with the option of a 48V hybrid engine (not available with the manual versions).

On the inside, the design is pretty neat and the seating comfortable and plush, although not exquisitely so. The cabin might not be as large as that in the MG Hector, but it is well-planned, making good use of the space at hand and still leaves plenty of room for all passengers to sit comfortably. However, it is in the features department that the Kia leaves a lasting impression with the Seltos. Right from the rather basic ones such as Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, powered front seats, automated headlights, wipers, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system, to the more impressive ones such as Cruise Control, a 360-degree camera, a first-in-its-segment 8” HUD, and an 8-speaker Bose audio system to name a few.

It is also one of the very few in India, other than the MG Hector, to provide connected technology by using an e-SIM to allow users to access certain functions in the car remotely through a mobile application system called UVO Connect. Expected to be priced in the range of 11 to 17 lakh INR, the Seltos could really throw the doors open for KIA to not only establish itself, but to also build a legacy in the country and worldwide.

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