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    • Perky engine
    • Great space efficiency
    • Good warranty cover
    • Immensely annoying speed warning system
    • Expensive to service
    • Halogen lights are poor
    5 Star

    The facelifted 2023 Kia Seltos range has arrived in Australia, boasting new design, interior gear and technological advancements that should help keep it near the pointy end of the highly competitive small SUV segment.

    The Seltos rivals small SUVs that have similar intent – practicality in a compact footprint – such as the Toyota Corolla Cross and Nissan Qashqai, both of which are all-new models with forms of hybrid technology available.

    The Seltos doesn’t have any hybrid petrol-electric powertrain offered.

    In this test, we’re driving the Sport+ 1.6-litre turbo-petrol version, which could be the sweet spot for those who love a bit of a speedy drive in their compact crossover.

    There is a cheaper version with the still very good 2.0-litre engine and CVT auto, but it’s front-wheel drive, so mightn’t suit those who think they’ll actually venture outside the city limits.

    No matter which version of the 2023 Kia Seltos Sport+ appeals to you though, it is missing a few crucial items that should be standard for the price – read on to find out more.

    WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD
    How does the Kia Seltos fare vs its competitors?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Kia Seltos against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD cost?

    You can get into a Seltos Sport+ for $35,800 plus on-road costs, but you won’t be getting the desirable turbocharged petrol engine for that money – the Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD model with the CVT automatic transmission is the sub-$36k offer.

    But if you can justify the extra spend on the turbo engine, eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive, the Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD model comes in at $39,300 plus on-road costs or $41,990 drive-away. So, the difference in list price is a not-insubstantial $3500, or just under 10 per cent of the cost of the non-turbo.

    That’s a big step up, and that’s not the end of the extra spending you’ll need to do for this turbo-petrol mill, either; it is more expensive to service, and it needs servicing more regularly, too. More on that further down.

    2023 Kia Seltos pricing ($RRP):

    • Kia Seltos S 2.0 FWD: $29,500
    • Kia Seltos Sport 2.0 FWD: $32,700
    • Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD: $35,800
    • Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD: $39,300
    • Kia Seltos GT-Line 2.0 FWD: $41,500
    • Kia Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD: $44,900

    Prices exclude on-road costs

    Kia Australia also offers the following nationwide drive-away prices:

    • Kia Seltos S 2.0 FWD: $31,690
    • Kia Seltos Sport 2.0 FWD: $35,390
    • Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD: $38,490
    • Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD: $41,990
    • Kia Seltos GT-Line 2.0 FWD: $44,590
    • Kia Seltos GT-Line 1.6T AWD: $47,690

    What is the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD like on the inside?

    This updated version of the Seltos takes a big step up inside, with new screens and interior tech that makes it feel like a shrunken Sportage or Sorento. 

    In the Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line versions, the Seltos scores a neat new all-digital cockpit with twin 10.25-inch displays – one for driver info, the other for infotainment. It’s a nice improvement over the still decent setup in the pre-facelift Seltos. 

    There’s also voice control and the 10.25-inch screen in these versions also has Kia Connect – internet connected satellite navigation, an intelligent voice assistant, and you can control some functions remotely with your phone.

    Each of the displays is quick to respond, and well thought out in terms of usability.

    The fact there’s an array of hard buttons below pleases this tester greatly – touchscreens that control everything aren’t as user-friendly as car companies make them out to be. You’ll find single zone climate control in the button array, too.

    Storage is pretty good for loose items – there’s a pair of cupholders between the front seats and a little wallet cubby, plus in front of the shifter there is another deep tray with a shelf on top, which is great for storing your phone (there are USB ports below). 

    All four doors have bottle holders, and between the outboard rear seats in the Sport+ there’s a flip-down armrest. You don’t get that in the lower grades. 

    There’s also just the one seatback (map) pocket, which seems odd. But at least the seatbacks are of the hard-wearing variety, making it suitable for kicking kids.

    A big round of applause to Kia for making directional air vents standard on all grades for the update – those were previously only in the GT-Line. Oh, and there are two USB-C charging ports, too. Nice.

    There are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, and three top-tether hooks. You’ll fit two child seats in, and a rearward-facing capsule shouldn’t cause too much of an issue for front seat passengers.

    If you haul adults more often than youngsters, you’ll comfortably fit two in the back seat, and uncomfortably fit three across. Legroom and headroom despite the latter criticism is exceptional for a small SUV – I’m 6’0” or 182cm, and I can fit behind my own driving position with room to spare.

    There’s another oddball missing item when it comes to the boot – there is no parcel shelf or cargo cover in any version apart from the top-spec GT-Line. Such a weird omission.

    The boot itself is great for the class – there’s 433 litres of cargo volume in the Sport+, and it (like the Sport and GT-Line) has a full-size spare wheel.

    The base model S gets a space-saver but scores a deeper boot as a result (468L). Fold down the back seats and you get 1428L of cargo room – very good for the size of the car.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    As mentioned, this one is the Sport+ 1.6 AWD, which means it runs the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder T-GDi petrol engine. It produces 146kW of power (6000rpm) and 265Nm of torque (1600-4500pm) – so it’s outputting the same amount of torque as before but has seen a 16kW power bump for this facelifted model.

    But that 12 per cent increase isn’t the best news about this powertrain – that honour falls to Kia’s decision to ditch the frustrating seven-speed dual-clutch auto in favour of a new eight-speed auto.

    The 0-100km/h time for the turbo Seltos is claimed at 8.4 seconds, so it’s hardly a hot hatch despite offering a similar power output to a VW Golf GTI (from a decade ago…).

    As mentioned, if you don’t think you need the turbo engine and on-demand all-wheel drive that this Seltos has, you could consider choosing the 2.0 MPi version which has a non-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine producing 110kW (6200rpm) and 180Nm (4500rpm). And it has an actually-not-that-bad CVT auto gearbox, which is going to be perfectly fine for urban dwellers.

    All versions of the Seltos have a 50-litre fuel tank, but there’s a difference in terms of economy, as you’d expect. But both engine variants can run on 91 RON regular unleaded, which isn’t always the case for forced-induction models.

    Claimed fuel economy:

    • Seltos Sport+ 2.0 FWD – 6.9 litres per 100km
    • Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD – 7.4 litres per 100km

    How does the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD drive?

    The Seltos is a decent little thing to get around in.

    Obviously the big story here is the powertrain, which is one of the more powerful units in the small SUV segment without crossing into the “performance” part of the market.

    Suffice to say that while the VW T-Roc R and Hyundai Kona N won’t be shaking in their boots at the performance of the 1.6L turbo Seltos, it’s a willing and punchy engine that is aided immeasurably by its new gearbox.

    Gone is the hesitant and jerky seven-speed dual-clutch (DCT) auto, and in its place is a new eight-speed torque converter automatic, which makes progress considerably smoother and more enjoyable – especially around town.

    The transmission shifts smartly, and doesn’t require any thought from the driver in “regular” driving scenarios.

    Ask a bit more of the powertrain and you might need to think a bit more about the shifts. There are no paddle-shifters, but there is a Sport drive mode and manual shift using the selector, if you want to pretend you’re driving a manual.

    Kia Australia didn’t bother doing any work to the chassis tune for the facelift model – running the same local ride and handling setup as the pre-facelift model. That means it’s still pretty good.

    That said, the steering is one thing I struggle to gel with in the Seltos – it has a bit of a heavy, dull feel to it at higher speeds, which can be a bit hard to get used to. But around town, and during parking moves, it’s simple and predictable.

    The suspension is mostly quite comforting, with a nice ride characteristic unless you find yourself running over repetitive bumps or very sharp edges.

    But over speed humps, the usual lumps and bumps and higher speed inconsistencies, it remains quite nicely composed. It’s not too loud inside at highway speeds, but coarse-chip surfaces can throw a bit of road roar into the cabin.

    However, the most annoying thing about the driving experience is the speed sign recognition system that will incessantly bing and bong at you, every time the speed limit changes.

    To turn it off (I did), you have to go through the media screen and press three different menu screens. You can’t set it as a favourite button, and you have to do it every time you start the car.

    If you live in an area where there are dozens of speed limit signs within a five-kilometre radius like I do, it could be a dealbreaker.

    What do you get?

    Seltos S highlights:

    • 16-inch alloy wheels
    • Electric folding side mirrors
    • Mirror-mounted side indicators
    • Black Matte grille
    • Body-coloured door handles
    • Halogen headlights, projector type
    • Halogen daytime running lights
    • Dusk-sensing headlights
    • Rear fog light
    • Roof rails
    • Basic digital instrument cluster
    • 4.2-inch multi-function LCD driver display
    • Cloth seats
    • 6-speaker sound system
    • 8.0-inch touchscreen
    • Apple CarPlay (wireless)
    • Android Auto (wired, wireless)
    • Halogen interior lighting
    • Rear air vents
    • Front, rear USB-C charge ports
    • Space saver spare wheel
    • Manual air-conditioning
    • Drive Mode Select
      • incl. Eco, Normal, Sport, Smart
    • 12V outlet in front tray

    Seltos Sport adds:

    • 17-inch alloy wheels
    • Front fog lights
    • Roof rails
    • Solar Glass
      • Windscreen
      • Front door
    • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
    • 10.25-inch infotainment system
    • DAB digital radio
    • Kia Connect
    • Satellite navigation
    • Sounds of Nature
    • Wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
    • Premium steering wheel, shifter
    • Auto up/down driver window
    • Single-zone climate control
    • Auto defog

    Seltos Sport+ adds:

    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • AEB with Cyclist, Junction assist
    • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
    • Cloth/leatherette seat trim
    • Driver Attention Alert
    • Electronic park brake incl. Auto Hold
    • Heated electric side mirrors
    • LED interior lighting
    • Lead Vehicle Departure Alert
    • Rear centre arm rest
    • Rear privacy glass
    • Smart key, push-button start

    Is the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD safe?

    It’s safe to say the Sport+ is safer than some of the less expensive models in the range, because it adds a few important and desirable features that the Sport and S grades don’t have.

    However, based on 2019 ANCAP testing, the Seltos is a five-star safety performer across the board. The facelifted model retains the same rating.

    Standard safety features include:

    • 6 airbags
    • AEB with Pedestrian detection
    • Blind-spot assist
    • Rear cross-traffic assist
    • High Beam Assist
    • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
    • Lane Following Assist
    • Lane keep assist
    • Safe Exit Warning
    • Front, rear parking sensors
    • Reversing camera
      • incl. dynamic guidelines
    • Driver Attention Alert
    • Rear Occupant Alert

    Seltos Sport adds:

    • eCall function via Kia Connect

    Seltos Sport+ adds:

    • AEB with Cyclist, Junction assist
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Leading Vehicle Departure Alert

    I can’t really see why Kia couldn’t have added the radar-based systems to all models, in order to keep up with rivals in the class like the Mazda CX-30 and Toyota Corolla Cross.

    How much does the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD cost to run?

    The Kia Seltos is covered by the brand’s impressive seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

    It also comes with a seven-year capped price servicing plan – but the costs of ownership will depend on whether you choose the turbo or not.

    If you do, you’ll find it has shorter service intervals (12 months/10,000km) and more expensive services, too. Over seven years or 70,000km, you’ll pay $308, $500, $373, $651, $346, $630 and $671 – meaning a total cost of $3479. That’s pricey for a non-luxury car.

    Let’s compare it to the Seltos 2.0 MPi – you’ll only pay $2072 for 75,000km of cover. So, if you value, er, value, then the non-turbo is a better bet for long-term ownership costs. 

    As for fuel consumption, the Sport+ 1.6T AWD returned a real-world figure of 9.5L/100km during my week of testing, which isn’t terrific for a small SUV, especially considering almost none of it was “spirited” driving.

    CarExpert’s Take on the Kia Seltos Sport+ 1.6T AWD

    You’re getting an impressive compact SUV if you choose the Kia Seltos.

    The spec you choose will ultimately determine if it’s a good value offering, and personally, I think the Sport+ grade offers a lot of stuff you should be aiming for when choosing a new car

    It’s just a shame it still misses out on LED headlights and daytime running lights, because that would only further the appeal of this variant.

    Personally, I’d be more tempted to shop up to the GT-Line, which scores better exterior lighting and a few other niceties that makes it feel more special – and to keep the costs down a bit, I’d choose it with the 2.0 MPi FWD drivetrain.

    Click the images for the full gallery

    MORE: Everything Kia Seltos

    Matt Campbell
    Matt Campbell is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership8
    Ride Comfort8
    Fit for Purpose9
    Handling Dynamics7.9
    Interior Practicality and Space8.8
    Fuel Efficiency7.5
    Value for Money7.3
    Technology Infotainment8.7
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