While some lust over the idea of a fire-breathing hot hatchback, others simply wish to reach their destination on time, in comfort and in one piece. The 2022 Kia Seltos S is the perfect everyday car for just that, delivering stylish swank without a hefty price tag.
With four SUVs all beginning with the letter ‘S’, it’s easy to confuse the Stonic for a Seltos and a Sportage for a Sorento. In a nutshell, the Seltos is Kia’s second smallest SUV, sitting above the Stonic but below the new Sportage.
It competes with the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, MG ZST, Suzuki Vitara, and Nissan Qashqai – in fact there’s an almost endless list of sub-$30k compact SUVs. The S variant of the Seltos is essentially the base model.
In the right specification, it’s a handsome vehicle with good proportions, sleek headlights, and a modest grille. And while our test vehicle was finished in sensible Steel Grey, we recommend opting for the more youthful Starbright Yellow or Neptune Blue.
In this, its most basic form, the Seltos receives 16-inch steelies and hubcaps, which ride fine over most potholes. However, go one above the entry-level ‘S’ trim and you will get attractive, 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.
Entering the cabin is a breeze and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. Sure, there are no electric adjustments for the cloth seats, but that’s no dealbreaker. The general layout of the interior is slick too, with tidy analogue gauges and physical buttons.
The 8.0-inch colour LCD touchscreen is the centrepiece, but it doesn’t intrude on the impressive outward visibility. Although nothing beats BMW’s iconic ‘swivel wheel’, the touchscreen is intuitive and mostly lag-free.
Bizarrely, only the Seltos S is fitted with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard; higher trims receive wired variants instead. We’re not complaining though, it’s nice to go cord free.
With a USB charger at the front, you’re ready to hit the highway and enjoy your tunes, assuming you aren’t an audiophile. While the polygon speaker covers are a quirky touch, the 6-speaker sound system is rather average.
Sadly, you will also need to jump into the Sport trim to enjoy DAB+ digital radio. If we’re honest, we wish Kia spiced-up the cabin with a splash of colour too. Once upon a time, the Italians and French threw in a coloured dashboard trim piece, but you won’t find that here.
There’s no funky badges or wacky gauge clusters either. Then again, virtually all our complaints are addressed with higher trim levels. In terms of materials, the interior felt relatively robust with durable plastics and minimal creaks.
No, there aren’t many soft-touch materials, and yes, some switchgear felt cheaper than a used toothbrush, but it might be justified. You see, when your toddler inevitably vomits or spills food in the back seat, you want things to be easy to clean or replace.
The family-friendliness continues with ISOFIX anchors and sufficient rear legroom. Individuals over 190cm should find long journeys comfortable too, thanks to ample headroom, which cannot be said for all vehicles in this market segment.
Prepping for a weekend getaway should be a doddle too thanks to a 468-litre boot, which expands to a generous 1,428-litres with the rear seats stowed. As standard, the Seltos is also fitted with Kia’s latest suite of safety technology.
This includes, but is not limited to, autonomous emergency braking for cars and pedestrians, lane keep assist, downhill brake control and a rear-view camera. If you flesh out an extra $1000, Kia will throw in their ‘Safety Pack’.
Fitted to our test vehicle, this adds adaptive cruise control, AEB for cyclists and junctions, and electric folding mirrors, among other things.
On the road, the Seltos S wafts along most imperfections thanks to an Aussie-tuned suspension. The drive is zippy, with 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque, courtesy of a 2.0-litre inline-four petrol engine.
Power is sent exclusively to the front wheels unless you opt for the Sport+ or GT-Line, which is available with all-wheel-drive. We didn’t abuse a brand new Seltos S off-road, but found it more than competent over loose surfaces and in the wet.
While the Sport+ and GT-Line are fitted with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, it’s unnecessary. The CVT in the Seltos S is not even remotely athletic, but it’s appropriate for a compact SUV, and the gear shifts are seamless.
More importantly, we never found ourselves struggling to overtake on the motorway. That’s because it’s actually peppy to drive, with a low centre-of-gravity and a tare weight of just 1355kg. It means you can throw it into corners without needing to recite a prayer.
Steering is all-around responsive and a little on the heavier side, ensuring it feels connected to the road and provides plenty of feedback. There are some shortcomings though, including its claimed 6.8-litres/100km fuel economy.
We struggled to keep it below 8.0-litres/100km, which is not a bad figure by any means, especially for a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine. The other issue is the halogen headlights, which leave you aching for some bright xenon units.
Thankfully, the high beams are bright enough for late night country driving. With a starting price of $27,990 before on-road costs, the 2022 Kia Seltos S is a reasonably priced car for reasonable folks.
While the five-star ANCAP safety rating is important, the real treat is the 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing. Despite the simplistic interior, we have no hesitation in recommending the Seltos S, provided you opt for a vibrant colour.
Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Kia Seltos S, contact your local Kia dealer.