REVIEW | 2020 Kia Seltos is a grocery-getter with oomph

06 May 2020 - 07:30 By Gugu Masuku
The Kia Seltos sports a punchy 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. Fuel economy is reasonable.
The Kia Seltos sports a punchy 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. Fuel economy is reasonable.
Image: Gugu Masuku

Test vehicle evaluations generally last a week – before a model is collected by its custodians and whisked off to the next publication. Long-term test programmes, like that of the year-long Polo GTI we introduced last month, afford an in-depth experience of the costs and potential issues involved with ownership.

Thanks to the national lockdown intervention that took effect over a month ago, we found ourselves in possession of a Kia Seltos for much longer than intended.

It arrived on March 24 and is set to return this Friday.  

Our affair began with a long-distance drive to the luscious green valleys of KwaZulu-Natal, on the day of its initial arrival. Believe it or not, the Kia is still running on the 95-octane fuel filled in prior to the journey. This is the longest stretch one has gone without topping up the reserves of any vehicle.

Indeed, it has spent most of its time in my tenure with its shifter in P, having covered a little under 200km on Durban soil. At some point, its 17-inch wheels seemed particularly itchy for road time. And so was I, to be honest. Eventually, we both gave in to our desires and went on a road date, which was a dash to the procure essential goods, albeit using a slightly longer route.

The Kia Seltos is a SUV that looks good from all angles.
The Kia Seltos is a SUV that looks good from all angles.
Image: Gugu Masuku

Taking the wheel for the first time in weeks proved interesting. It was awkward. It hearkened back to those early days as a novice motorist, with more ambition than experience under the belt, and where every driving opportunity was a special occasion, riddled with excitement and nerves all in one messy bunch. Thank you, Seltos.

Removing the muzzle from its 1.4-litre, turbocharged engine unlocks a peppy drive from the Korean car. There is an instant spring in its step – with 103kW and 242Nm underfoot.  

However, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has certain tendencies that raise an eyebrow, especially at pedestrian speeds. Where finesse and slow movements are required, the Kia is either not responsive or lurches suddenly with great enthusiasm.

The irony of not being able to drive as much as one wants is the current dramatically reduced petrol price. Filling up the 50-litre tank inland would have cost R792 a month ago, compared to the current price per litre, where a full top-up now amounts to R698 - a saving of R100, a decent amount in these uncertain times! The long-term consumption readout indicates 6.8l/100km.

A full tank should be in order soon, with the drive to the City of Gold imminent. Both man and machine are very eager to undertake what would normally be a mundane journey on the N3. Covid-19 will teach us not to take anything for granted: I for one will be cherishing every minute on the road back in the Seltos, spirit warmed by the prospect of a nation hopefully returning to normal - whatever that might have meant before March 24, anyway.


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