2023 Kia Seltos new car review

Kia’s popular Seltos has had a midlife tweak.

A fresh new look is complemented by improvements in comfort, technology and equipment, boosting its appeal in the compact SUV segment.

But the updates come with price rises of between about five and seven per cent.

The entry-level S is now $31,690 drive-away and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a partially digital driver display, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and safe-exit warning, the latter alerting occupants to approaching vehicles when parked. There are four USB ports (one USB-A and three USB-C) spread evenly between front and rear seats.

The Sport ($35,390) is a big step up in gear, with 17-inch wheels, a larger 10.25-inch driver display and matching 10.25-inch infotainment screen that integrates satellite navigation but does away with the wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto of the entry model. It also has a full-size spare tyre.

The new Kia Connect function allows you to use your smartphone to lock and unlock the car remotely, send navigation destinations from your phone to the car and access real time data feeds.

The Sport+ adds partial artificial leather as well as smart-key entry. It also has a forward-facing radar for adaptive cruise control as well as a more advanced auto emergency braking system with cyclist detection. The handbrake lever is replaced by a button, freeing up more space in the centre console.

At the top of the Seltos tree is the GT-Line ($44,590), which has a power-operated driver’s seat with memory function, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, a panoramic sunroof, Bose sound system, more imitation leather, a heated steering wheel, head-up display and a powered tailgate. It also has a rear luggage cover that is conspicuously absent on other grades.

The Seltos is available with two engines.

An unchanged 2.0-litre four-cylinder makes 110kW and 180Nm and drives the front wheels through a CVT auto. It’s available in all four trim levels and is an honest engine that benefits from the quick responses of the continuously variable transmission.

Drive it harder and there’s some harshness in the upper rev range but the CVT’s ability to quickly adjust to the driver’s commands means it can usually trundle around relying on the mid-rev pull.

The flagship 1.6-litre turbo that costs another $3500 on the Sport+ and $3100 on the GT-Line also adds all-wheel drive to the equation. It picks up an extra 16kW, now making 146kW and 265Nm. The seven-speed twin-clutch auto, which was criticised for being jerky around town, has been replaced by a conventional eight-speed auto.

Service intervals drop from 15,000km to 10,000km for the turbo engine and the services are slightly more expensive.

There are mild performance and efficiency benefits, but the biggest improvement is in slow speed manoeuvrability. The new transmission engages more consistently and makes swift throttle applications smoother. There’s ample pull from the compact turbo engine, which is fun when you dial up the pace.

There’s an occasional laziness in the regular drive mode, but Sport builds the revs up for swifter reactions. The all-wheel drive system makes harnessing the extra punch easier, especially out of corners, where you can get the power down earlier.

Kia has added some insulation to quieten the cabin. You’ll still hear tyre and engine noise but it’s more muted than before.

The Seltos points confidently at corners and keeps the driver informed as to what’s happening at ground level while also recovering quickly and effectively from bumps. It’s a well sorted package that is easy to live with.

The broader, lower profile tyres of the GT-Line step up the cornering panache with only a modest trade-off in ride comfort.

It’s officially a compact SUV, but the Seltos is among the most accommodating in its class. There’s great space up front, while the seats hug nicely. New rear air vents are a bonus, head room is generous and there’s acceptable knee room in the second row.

The updated Seltos improves on a successful formula, although you pay more for those improvements.

VERDICT 4/5

Tech and design changes improve on an already impressive – and spacious – Seltos package.

KIA SELTOS SPORT+ 2.0

PRICE From $38,490 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING Seven years/unlimited km, $2072 for 5 yrs

SAFETY Six airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-keep and blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit warning, driver monitor, emergency call system

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 110kW/180Nm

THIRST 6.9L/100km

SPARE Full size

LUGGAGE 433 litres

Originally published as 2023 Kia Seltos new car review

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