Observer writer

Friday, April 24, 2020

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With the much-acclaimed Kia Stinger GT sedan under its belt, the brand has turned that sense of upmarket bravado to the rest of its model range starting with the 2021 Seltos GT Line.

The compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) has been endowed with all the elements that made the Stinger GT such a lightning rod when it first hit the market in 2017.

This begins with the styling. Like the Stinger GT, the Seltos is a radical departure from the mundane and sedate visuals normally found in rivals. Strong lines, a futuristic interpretation of Kia's signature tiger grille, go a long way to giving the vehicle a premium look. Choose the right body colour, single or two tone, and crystal cut alloy wheels up to 17 inches and the Seltos won't be mistaken for anything else on the road, especially at night as the LED lighting, front and rear, leave a striking appearance.

Approach the Seltos and the mirrors fold open in anticipation of owner entry. The design bravado displayed on the exterior is also extended to the interior, first seen by the Greek-like piano gloss black slab that joins the instrumentation and the large infotainment screen. Drop into the comfortable stitched leather seats, with three levels of cooling, for the commanding seating position SUV buyers enjoy. There's plenty of space to take in the quality and style of the interior in which there are plenty of angles and curves; from the GT Line logo stitched into the headrests to all the soft-touch materials at the key contact points.

From day to night, the Seltos thrills. Open to the sunroof to make the interior sparkle or close it and turn on the Sound Mood Lighting system that pumps not only music from the speakers, but matching user chosen pulsating colour themes. The infotainment is backed up by a seven-inch display in the binnacle and an eight-inch Head-up display. Major functions can be set to automatic. All controls operate effortlessly, virtual or otherwise. However, it's more than an over achievement of refinement and technology. Things are well thought out in the Seltos. For example, the wireless changing is its own shelf, lined to stop the phone from sliding around, taking up centre console space and hiding it away from prying eyes. There are two front USB ports, lit for easy access at night. This allows both front passengers to charge their devices. Those in the rear have their own port. For those driving alone, one port can charge while the other as acts as USB music source. In the rear there are slots to fit the seatbelts to stop them from rattling around free.

The Kia is setup as an urban cruiser. The 1.6-litre gets through the gears quickly to settle into a measured pace that matches the comfort-tuned suspension. In ECO and NORMAL modes, things are very relaxed. SPORT gets very aggressive, holding on to the rpms longer, shifting faster and tightening the steering feel. Drive it how it's supposed to be and one can easily see fuel returns in the 30mpg range.

Like that fuel range, the Kia Seltos is a bit of an overachiever, styled, filled with materials and technology that puts it in the ranks of many larger luxury SUVs.

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