THE SELTOS IS EASILY ONE OF the most awaited launches of this year. It comes from Kia, and will mark the marque's (see my play of words?) entry into India. It's an SUV that will be coming into a segment that is heating up intensely with the aggressivelypriced MG Hector taking on the likes of the evergreen Hyundai Creta. And since it is based on the Creta platform, we know the underpinnings are solid. If the Creta's success is anything to go by, Kia Motors execs are going to be laughing all the way to the bank.
Before you read any further, I want to make something clear. This is not a full-blown review for a number of reasons — firstly, these are prototypes and not production cars. These are cars that Kia Motors is producing to set their quality standards and train their technicians. They are close to production cars, but there could be variations to the real thing. To what degree, I cannot say. Secondly, I didn't get too much time behind the wheel. I drove a total of four variants — I will come to which ones they were in a bit — but I drove each of them for little over a lap of Kia's test track at their green field facility in Anantapur. Two laps if I was naughty and didn't pull in to swap cars when I was asked to. So what you are about to read are my cursory first impressions of a prototype vehicle. A detailed, conclusive review will follow when we drive the production cars on the road.
A big part of what will allow the Seltos to do well is the sheer variety of drivetrains. Where SUVs like the Harrier, for now, don't even give you the option of either a petrol or an automatic the Seltos will give you a total of six different configurations. There are three different engines, each available with a manual or an automatic option. The first is a naturallyaspirated 1.5-litre petrol engine that gets a six-speed manual or the option of a CVT. Then there's the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol which comes with the option of a six-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT. Lastly, and obviously, there's a diesel — a 1.5-litre turbocharged motor that comes with a six-speed manual or a torque convertor automatic. All the motors meet BSVI emission norms right away. Saying you are spoilt for choice is an understatement. I got my hands on both versions of the turbo-petrol and diesel, but I'll come to what they feel like in a bit. Before that, I want to talk about the way the Seltos looks.
Design and interiors
Design and aesthetics are a huge focus for Kia. One look at the Seltos rolling down the road, or in this case a test track, and you know they've done something right. The face is properly distinct — front and centre is the Tiger Nose grille, an element that runs common through their entire range. The headlamps are intricately designed with a lot of elements making the face look rather expensive, and the indicators that sit below it are rather unique looking too. The Seltos is wider and longer than the Creta, but it isn't as tall. This gives the Seltos a far more aggressive-looking, more dynamic stance compared to the more upright Creta. There's a heavy use of cladding,