2023 Kia Seltos SUV first drive review: Armed to the teeth, kitted for the bite

₹10.9 - 20.35 Lakhs*
*Ex-showroom price
4 out of 5
Pros
  • Sporty styling updates
  • Feature list enhanced, plus ADAS
  • 1.5-litre turbo engine is a superstar
Cons
  • Still no AWD option
  • The updated Kia Seltos is all set to renew its intense rivalry against a long list of very capable players in the mid-size SUV space.
The updated Kia Seltos continues to be offered across multiple engine and transmission choices.
The updated Kia Seltos continues to be offered across multiple engine and transmission choices.

Kia Seltos SUV has had a solid run in the Indian car market despite being one of the newer offerings in the highly lucrative and highly competitive mid-size SUV space. That Seltos holds a very special place in the Kia India lineup is evident from the fact that it was the debut model for the company when it came calling back in 2019. Earlier this year, Seltos surpassed the key milestone of five lakh units in sales, another testament to its popularity.

Seltos' success in the India has been fundamentally balanced on a few key factors - stylish visual appeal, tech-loaded cabin and a largely capable powertrain. But rivals have staked newer and potentially more viable claims to the segment in which this Kia SUV competes in, prompting the Koreans to return fire with the all-new 2023 Kia Seltos.

Also check these Cars

Find more Cars
Kia Seltos (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1497 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 10.90 - 20.30 Lakhs
Compare
View Offers
Hyundai Creta (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1497 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 11 - 20.15 Lakhs
Compare
View Offers
Mahindra Thar (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon2184 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 11.25 - 17.20 Lakhs
Compare
View Offers
Tata Blackbird (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
Engine Icon1199.0 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 10 - 16.50 Lakhs
View Details
Mahindra Bolero (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1493.0 cc FuelType IconDiesel
₹ 9.90 - 10.91 Lakhs
Compare
View Offers
Hyundai Creta (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1497 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 11 - 20.15 Lakhs
Compare
View Offers

The updated Seltos sticks to its core strengths of looking very sporty while now offering even more features in the cabin. The real power punch is promised from the introduction of Level 2 ADAS and the debut of the 1.5-turbo petrol engine on the model. The recipe is just right for the momentum to continue but how does the 2023 Seltos fare in the real world?

2023 Kia Seltos pricing        
Trims HTEHTKHTK+HTXHTX+GTX+X-Line
         
Petrol 1.56MT10.8912.0913.4915.19---
 iVT---16.59---
Petrol 1.5 T-GDi6iMT--14.99-18.29--
 7DCT----19.1919.7919.99
Diesel 1.56iMT11.9913.5914.9916.9918.29--
 6AT---18.19-19.7919.99
        All prices are in INR lakhs & ex-showroom

Here is a first-drive review of the 2023 Kia Seltos:

Watch: Kia Seltos 2023: First drive review

2023 Kia Seltos - Variants and trims explained

Brands like Kia and Hyundai offer a whole lot of options to the customer in terms of engine, transmission, colours, styling, features and more. And while having the power of choice is great, it can be very complicated for the common buyer to pin down on just the right choice for him or her.

The 2023 Kia Seltos continues to be offered in as many as 18 variants across three broad trim lines - Tech Line, GT Line and the pinnacle X Line. Essentially, the X Line is the one that gets the matt finish on the body.

Features and styling updates varies from not just variant to variant within a specific trim line but between trim lines as well. For the sole purpose of clarity, one is advised to choose between the three engine and five transmission choices first before homing in on the trim and variant, if and where available.

2023 Kia Seltos - Design highlights

The biggest strength of the updated Kia Seltos will continue to be its very sporty visual appeal from the outside. There are as many as eight single-tone colour options and two dual-tone hues, apart from the matte graphite on the X-Line. Of all of these, the new Pewter Olive shade is my personal favourite and looks extremely premium.

As for the major updates to the styling, the trademark tigernose front grille - with chrome or gloss blak outline - has grown in size and has an even more imposing presence on the face. Cutting across it from either ends are new design language of the DRLs, referred to by the company as Star Map LEDs. The LED head light units also elevate the visual appeal of the face while the design of the now four-point fog light system at the bottom is also new. The front grille and the air intakes now grow in size.

Kia Seltos
There are subtle differences between X Line and GT Line (right) in the above photo. Do notice the GT Line gets chrome treatment around its grille while there is a grey front skid plate at the bottom.
Kia Seltos
There are subtle differences between X Line and GT Line (right) in the above photo. Do notice the GT Line gets chrome treatment around its grille while there is a grey front skid plate at the bottom.

Depending on the trim and variant, the Seltos sits on 16, 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels. The crystal-cut black alloy wheel design has also been crafted with the sole purpose of adding to the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle. The character lines, creases and chrome underlining the windowline remain.

Seltos
A closer look the side and rear profile of the new Kia Seltos X Line.
Seltos
A closer look the side and rear profile of the new Kia Seltos X Line.

Over at the rear, the Seltos now gets an all-new design for the LED tail lights while an LED light bar yawns across the length of the trunk door. There is a prominent skid plate at the bottom (see pic below) and if opting for the GT or X Line trims, there are also two exhaust vents (see pic above).

Seltos
A look at the rear of the Tech Line and the front of the GT line Seltos.
Seltos
A look at the rear of the Tech Line and the front of the GT line Seltos.

Seltos was always a sporty-looking SUV and the confluence of all the fresh updates further elevates its appeal. It may not be for those who prefer a more conventionally-styled model but then again, Kia has always aimed for the crowd rather than the distinct.

2023 Kia Seltos: Dimensions 
  
Length4,365 mm
Width1,800 mm
Height1,645 mm
Fuel-tank capacity50 litres

2023 Kia Seltos - Cabin updates and feature list

The cabin of the Seltos continues to offer the same amount of space and comfort as was available in the preceding models. This means that while it is a great option for even five passengers, the relatively small rear windows remain unchanged. But a lot has changed in almost every other way.

Kia Seltos
A look at the upholstery and cabin layout inside the Seltos GT Line trim.
Kia Seltos
A look at the upholstery and cabin layout inside the Seltos GT Line trim.

Continuing with the over-arching ideas of offering a mile-long list of options to choose from, the 2023 Seltos gets multiple upholstery colour options depending on the trim line. The Tech Line can be had with Brown leatherette seats and Black interiors with Brown inserts - tacky for my personal senses. It can also be had with Black and Beige Leatherette seats with Black and Beige interiors, and Beige leatherette seats with Black and Beige interiors. There are all black interiors too with fabric seats. Then there is the GT Line with Black leatherette seats and all-Black interiors with White inserts. And the top-end X-Line comes with Sage Green Leatherette seats with all-Black interiors with Sage Green inserts.

In terms of features, the Seltos now gets its 10.25-inch main display and the 10.25-inch MID encapsulated in a stretched housing. This is across variants and trims although the functionalities, obviously, would differ. The display units are typically sharp and intuitive to use.

Kia Seltos
The all-Black colour theme inside the Kia Seltos GT Line look particularly premium.
Kia Seltos
The all-Black colour theme inside the Kia Seltos GT Line look particularly premium.

On top is a dual-pane sunroof while the other highlights include rain-sensing wipers, eight-way power adjustable driver seat, ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker Bose sound system, D-shaped steering wheel with mounted controls, air-purification system, wireless phone charging, plenty of USB charging slots and plethora of storage spaces all around. Small details like rear window shade across variants is a good move.

2023 Kia Seltos - Drive dynamics and ADAS

The latest Kia Seltos is offered across three engine options - two petrol and one diesel. The 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol motor continues to offer 113 bhp and 144 Nm of torque. It is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and an iVT. Then there is the 1.5-litre CRDi diesel motor that puts out 114 bhp and serves 250 Nm of torque. We did not get a chance to drive either of these in this review.

The spotlight, however, is clearly on the return of the turbo petrol motor, now in a 1.5-litre guise. This engine is paired to a six-speed iMT and a seven-speed DCT. There is a delicious dose of power and torque - 158 bhp and 253 Nm - and this is not just restricted to figures but manifests itself into performance in the real world.

The turbo petrol motor - paired with the seven-speed DCT - is the clear winner in the Seltos lineup, a romance made in automotive heaven. The power delivery is linear, yet strong, with the gearbox effortlessly working the right numbers in response to the intensity of throttle inputs. While the Eco drive mode has enough power to perform on highways, the Normal and Sport modes further elevate the spirit of the SUV.

Kia Seltos
The Seltos X-Line driven in this review had the turbo petrol motor paired to the much-acclaimed DCT gearbox.
Kia Seltos
The Seltos X-Line driven in this review had the turbo petrol motor paired to the much-acclaimed DCT gearbox.

But when the engine gets paired to the semi-automatic gearbox or iMT, it is a comparatively calmer experience where you would have to work the gearbox with precision to extract the performance of a similar nature. On its own, it is hardly shabby but it really has nothing on the much-acclaimed DCT.

Seltos
It may be more affordable than its DCT sibling but the iMT on the Seltos will have you take some time getting used to.
Seltos
It may be more affordable than its DCT sibling but the iMT on the Seltos will have you take some time getting used to.

Because triple-digit speeds are fairly easy for the Seltos, credit is due for a very firm grip on exterior noise because whether it is the engine or ambient sounds, not much manages to filter into the cabin of the Seltos. Keep a light grip on the throttle and the well-weighted steering and the Seltos pushes forward well while remaining planted for most parts.

And then there is the ADAS technology which seeks to be the cherry on the proverbial cake. I may personally continue doubting the feasibility of ADAS in Indian conditions but it is still billed as a key safety features by many. The Seltos makes use of one front camera and three radars - one in front and two at the rear - to offer as many as 17 safety and preventive drive highlights. During the course of this review, we put features like Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Foward Collision Warning to the test and it worked precisely. Do note that all of these were done on an open and clear stretch of highway with a second Seltos review unit for testing.

2023 Kia Seltos - Verdict

Kia Seltos
The 2023 Kia Seltos also gets an updated pricing structure but for all that is new on this model, the increase in sticker price may be well justified.
Kia Seltos
The 2023 Kia Seltos also gets an updated pricing structure but for all that is new on this model, the increase in sticker price may be well justified.

Not every Kia move in India has paid it rich dividends. The Carnival was a big gamble while the EV6 is a flagship that is more a statement than a sales driver. The Sonet sub-compact SUV sells in good numbers but is not a leader in its segment. The Seltos, therefore, is the most formidable Kia India model and now with its slew of changes, updates and additions, emerges as a very, very solid option.

Compared to some of its rivals, the new Seltos still does not have certain highlights like all-wheel drive capabilities and/or strong hybrid technology. But enhancing its core strengths while also offering ADAS should hold it in very good stead in the market, at least till the time Hyundai updates its Creta in a similar manner.

First Published Date: 23 Jul 2023, 10:01 AM IST
NEXT ARTICLE BEGINS

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers on

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city

Want to get the best price for your existing car?

Powered by: Spinny Logo
By clicking "View Offers" you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy
Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city
Couldn't verify the OTP.
It's either expired or it's incorrect.