2023 Kia Seltos facelift review, first drive - it adds up
The Kia Seltos set the stage for Kia in India, becoming an instant hit and propelling the brand to one of the most successful debuts by a carmaker ever in our country. In the few years since, there's been quite a bit in the way of competition, and while the hype isn't quite what it used to be, there is still enough interest in this mid-sized SUV for it to not fade out of contention. Perfect timing for a mid-life update.
2023 Kia Seltos facelift Styling
The Kia Seltos has always made quite a strong statement with its looks, and this facelift carries that forward. The most striking change is the new grille, it's larger now and has louder detailing, even more so with the GT and X-Line, but what catches the eye first is the new LED lighting signature. There's more detailing within the headlamps and in the way the DRLs extend out into the grille while the dynamic turn indicators too make the SUV stand out quite a bit in a crowd.
The bumpers too have been reworked. Like the grille with its varied use of materials, there's quite a bit happening here with the silver skid plates and the plastic cladding. This section could have been toned down a bit, especially in the GT Line and X Line trims, but it must be said that all of the changes made happen to be quite naturally integrated into the unchanged sheet metal.
There's not much change in profile, aside from the new design for the alloy wheels. The Tech Line continues with 17-inchers while the GT and X-Line go up a size to 18s. These are again quite intricately detailed, which may be too much so for some, but you can be sure it'll draw eyes on the move. Also well thought out are the colour choices on offer, especially the green and purple we spent our time in. The matte grey from the X-Line being another one.
There's more of the same at the rear. The full-width taillamps with the vertical stacking and segmented design look especially high quality, again making sure the Seltos stands out quite easily in a crowd. Like with the front, the new bumper also melds in organically with the crimped-in bumper but again could have been toned down a touch in its styling. The twin exhaust tips in the GT Line are functional, making them great bragging fodder.
2023 Kia Seltos facelift interiors, space, features
On the inside, few but substantial changes have been made to the Kia Seltos. Like the outside, the cabin too still looked quite fresh with its horizontally and vertically angular motifs so these changes only enhance the plush and techy feel of the cabin further. There's just enough soft material on the dash and armrests while all the switches function with good tactility and heft. The dual-tone tan and black colour theme in the Tech line is our pick of the colour patterns available, in the way it enhances the premium feel of the space. Although the all-black of the GT Line and the dark green of the X-Line will be equally appealing to some.
With the new twin-screen layout, the instrument cluster is now a 10.25-inch digital unit, is now slimmer and sits flush with the dash top, making for a more cohesive look and better outward visibility. The instrument cluster itself is the usual Hyundai-Kia fare, so it's easy to navigate and offers up as much information as you need in an easily accessed manner. The new navigation-focused screen mode seems straight out of a luxury car and you still get the blind spot feed in the dials, although the placement of the camera could have been better.
The touchscreen has the new theme as seen in the Carens, so this too is easy to get used to although the lack of wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay is stark in a car that is well equipped otherwise. There's also a new panel for the dual-zone climate feature. Breaking from the new norm, there's not a touch panel to be seen, and with the ease with which you can operate this, it just goes to show how useful hard buttons are in cars.
As for the rest of the cabin, the seats deserve a special mention, whether you pick the simpler one in the Tech Line or the slightly sportier GT Line ones. They hold you in place well and have just the right contouring and support for longer journeys.
The Seltos has always been one of the more spacious cars in its segment, and the addition of the panoramic sunroof further accentuates the sense of the space that's on offer. Otherwise, there is more than a fair amount of knee and headroom. The sunroof also doesn't eat into the good headroom all that much.
The rear bench is again a comfortable one with all the attributes of the front, and given the width of the cabin, three abreast is doable. There's also good thigh support in the way the entire bench extends out, without compromising the middle passenger. They also recline to a good angle so backseat passengers will find it easy to get comfortable.
As always with a Kia, there's a compelling list of features. The Tech Line misses out on ADAS, auto-wipers, an electronic parking brake and the 360-degree camera. The GT and X Line get the larger 18-inch wheels while the X Line further adds the HUD. Other feature highlights are the panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, front parking sensors, wireless charging, connected tech and auto wipers.
2023 Kia Seltos facelift Driving impressions 1.5 turbo DCT, iMT
The facelifted Kia Seltos now gets the new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol motor, as seen in the Carens, Alcazar and Verna. It's an impressive engine and the 160PS and 253 Nm it puts out, makes the Seltos one of the more potent SUVs in its segment. There's good refinement, you don't notice too much in the way of vibrations and it's quiet as long as you don't rev it out too high, which you don't really need to do in most situations in calm driving.
The engine seems to realize its full potential when paired with the seven-speed DCT. The gearbox is quick-witted and there's barely any of the low-speed hesitation you look out for. Its best trait though is the way it manages to negate the engine's lag. It tends to keep the engine just at the cusp of its powerband in most situations, you only find the drivetrain running slightly out of breath at low city speeds when you want to close a gap, although switching to the S gearbox mode solves this. Out on the highway, things are more straightforward. The turbo-DCT Seltos will cruise calmly and has enough pull in reserve for most overtaking situations, the gearbox again quickly dropping as many gears it needs to offer up performance.
The other gearbox option with the turbo is the six-speed iMT clutchless manual, sadly there's no traditional manual available. This gearbox though, being Rs 90,000 less than an equivalent DCT, does find a good trade-off between convenience and affordability. It does reduce the pain of having to pedal a clutch in traffic, although you do find yourself rowing through the gears quite often. It can't quite cover up the lag as well as the DCT, and you often have to drop down a couple of gears for an overtake. It's far from a deal-breaker, especially with the big cost difference to a DCT.
You also don't need too much effort to change gears, the throws aren't too long and while there is that slight notchiness from the actuator, leaving your foot on the gas reduces this to quite an extent, along with the mild head nod that you might otherwise experience. That said, the gearbox doesn't like indecisiveness, showing up in some significant head nod when you change your mind about the gear you want to be in midway through the shift.
As for the rest of the driving experience, not much has changed. The Seltos remains a plush car to be in. The steering is well-judged, it's nice to hold with the paddles falling to hand easily. It's not overly light but has enough resistance and precision to let you place the car confidently on the road. The drive modes of course alter this in the DCT but not to a great extent. The 18-inch wheels in the GT Line and with the suspension tune tending slightly to the firmer end of what you might find in this segment, you do notice some of the larger potholes in the cabin. It can get noisy but it's not too uncomfortable with the good damping. Either way, this trait fades out to quite an extent as you reach highway speeds where the Seltos feels stable and confident enough. It'll also handle sweeping highway bends well enough at high speeds.
2023 Kia Seltos facelift ADAS, safety
Another big addition with this update to the Kia Seltos is that of ADAS. This is the fairly competent Hyundai-Kia level 2 system and it functions in much the same way here. A demonstration showed that the front collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic avoidance work as indented with the parameters of the system. There's a full suite of other functions available too, and as with these systems in our conditions they are a good aid to have onboard but of course, can't replace your full attentiveness towards driving.
The Seltos hasn't had a strong showing in Global NCAP safety tests previously but this new version addresses this to an extent with its long list of standard safety equipment. This includes six airbags, electronic stability control, hill-hold, all-wheel disc brakes and TPMS.
2023 Kia Seltos facelift price, verdict
The Kia Seltos is priced introductorily from Rs 10.90 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. This is a compelling price for an SUV that was already a top contender but now feels further strengthened. The feature and design additions have been thoughtful, playing on the Seltos's strengths and giving you an SUV that is striking to look at, feels expensive inside and drives with enough sophistication.
Starts Rs 9.95 Lakhs
Starts Rs 9.99 Lakhs
Starts Rs 10.5 Lakhs