REVIEW | Why the fuel-saving Kia Seltos 1.5 CRDi comes at a price

20 June 2024 - 10:10
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A redesigned 'tiger nose' grille comes with new headlamp clusters and bumper.
A redesigned 'tiger nose' grille comes with new headlamp clusters and bumper.

There is a global move away from diesel engines in favour of petrol and hybrid technology but Kia believes there is still a place for oil burners in the compact crossover segment.

In South Africa the Kia Seltos 1.5 CRDi is one of just two diesel models left in the category, the other being the similarly powered but cheaper Renault Duster 1.5 dCi.

Originally launched in South Africa in late 2019, the Seltos was first available in petrol guise with turbodiesel options added a year later. In April the range was refreshed with an exterior and interior restyle. This includes a redesigned “tiger nose” grille with new headlamp clusters and bumper that arguably gives the Seltos more visual verve but it’s a fussy design that lacks the simple coherence of the pre-facelift.

Inside, the old analogue instrument panel makes way for a fully digital display integrated with the infotainment touchscreen, with user-friendly physical buttons retained for a number of functions.

The diesel Seltos is sold in three grades priced up to R599,995, and the LX is newly introduced to the line-up as the entry point into the range at R521,995. That is a significant premium over the diesel Renault Duster and most petrol competitors in the category, with many rivals selling for well under R500,000. Kia is no longer a disrupter brand with prices that undercut the establishment.

In the Seltos range the more expensive EX and EX Plus variants have a storage box with an integrated armrest between the front seats, artificial leather upholstery, electronic parking brake, smart entry and push-button start. Other key features lacking in the baseline LX include automatic climate control, wireless charging, mood lighting and Drive Mode Select with four modes.

A new digital instrument panel is integrated with the infotainment touchscreen, with physical buttons retained for a number of functions.
A new digital instrument panel is integrated with the infotainment touchscreen, with physical buttons retained for a number of functions.

But the LX model is hardly stripped bare. It comes with LED daytime running lights, automatic headlamps, remote central locking and keyless entry. The cabin has cloth upholstery, a height adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped multifunction adjustable steering wheel, a digital instrument cluster, manual air conditioning and cruise control. A 20cm touchscreen infotainment system offers wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a reverse camera.

The neat and modern interior looks relatively upmarket even though the dashboard has a hard surface instead of the more expensive-looking squishy plastic. Kia was perhaps a little stingy in not using soft-touch material on the door armrests, as resting your elbow on the hard surface becomes uncomfortable after a while.

That said, the cabin is roomy and takes a quartet of adults in comfort, while the boot swallows a useful 433l and carries a full-sized spare tyre. The rear seats can be folded down to expand the cargo hold.

The LX rides on high-profile 16-inch tyres which contribute to a comfortable ride, and the car makes smooth progress over bumps. It feels solidly built and handles rough surfaces without making annoying rattles. The Seltos handles neatly for a crossover, and its elevated 190mm ground clearance ensures it is able to tackle steeply-angled driveways and climb kerbs without scraping its belly.

The LX is available with a naturally aspirated 1.5l petrol engine with outputs of 84kW and 144Nm, paired to either a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission delivering drive to the front wheels. Kia claims performance figures of 0-100km/h in 12.3 seconds and 170km/h top speed.

The 1.5l turbodiesel on test makes 85kW and 250Nm and comes exclusively as a six-speed automatic, with claimed figures of 0-100km/h in 12 seconds and a top speed of 175km/h. 

The test car averaged 6.0l / 100km in a town/freeway mix.
The test car averaged 6.0l / 100km in a town/freeway mix.

The diesel Seltos feels faster than the numbers suggest. It gets off the line without significant turbo lag and has easy commuting and cruising pace, while its gutsy mid-range torque allows overtakes with confidence. The car starts up with a noisy tractor-like clatter but settles into a quiet idle once it warms up. On the road it’s refined and wind noise is not intrusive.

Kia claims a 5.5l/100km fuel consumption figure for the diesel Seltos and the test car wasn’t too far off, averaging 6.0l in a town/freeway mix. It is the car’s winning point in a segment dominated by petrol rivals that aren’t as frugal, including the petrol Seltos 1.5 LX which costs R29,000 less.

Some petrol competitors aren’t too far behind in the economy stakes, averaging just over 7l/100km, and whether the diesel Seltos achieves a sufficient saving in running costs is an important factor to consider given its heavy price premium in a competitive segment.

As much as there is to like about the car, including its class-leading torque, it is no bargain.

Tech Specs


  • Type: Four-cylinder diesel turbo
  • Capacity: 1,493cc
  • Power: 85kW
  • Torque: 250Nm


  • Type: Six-speed auto


  • Type: Front-wheel drive


  • Top speed: 175km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 12 seconds
  • Fuel consumption: 5.5l/100km (claimed); 6.0l /100km (as tested)
  • Emissions: 145g/km


ABS brakes, six airbags, electric windows, aircon, cruise control, remote central locking, touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, front and rear USB connections, voice control, trip computer, height and reach adjustable steering, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, stability control, 190mm ground clearance, parking camera

Warranty: Five years/unlimited km

Service plan: Five years/90,000km

Price: R521,995

Lease: R11,641 (at 11.75% interest over 60 months no deposit)

Kia Seltos 1.5CRDi LX auto

WE LIKE: Styling, space, fuel consumption


VERDICT: Likeable but expensive

MOTOR NEWS star rating

  • Design **** 
  • Performance ***
  • Economy ****
  • Ride ****
  • Handling ***
  • Safety ****
  • Value For Money ***
  • Overall ***

 The Competition

  • Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5 Comfort CVT, 83kW/138Nm — R355,900
  • Haval Jolion 1.5T Premium, 105kW/210Nm — R389,150
  • Hyundai Venue 1.0T Motion Auto, 88kW/172Nm — R439,500
  • Proton X50 1.5T, 110kW/226Nm — R449,900
  • VW T-Cross 1.0TSI Comfortline, 85kW/200Nm — R458,900
  • Honda BR-V 1.5 Comfort CVT, 89kW/145Nm — R459,900
  • Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Intens AWD, 80kW/250Nm — R465,999
  • Peugeot 2008 1.2T Active auto, 96kW/230Nm — R474,900
  • Toyota C-HR 1.2T, 85/185Nm — R487,500
  • Kia Seltos 1.5 LX auto, 84kW/144Nm — R492,995
  • Mazda CX-30 2.0 Active auto, 121kW/213Nm — R506,400
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2.0 GLS, 110kW/198Nm — R524,990.


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