You may have seen Kia’s Seltos ads, featuring the song Bad Guy by Billie Eilish.
It shows the Seltos parked at a scenic lookout, pumping tunes, the interior glowing, and no-one there to enjoy it. We’ve spent some time with the car, named loosely after the son of Hercules, to see if it really likes to party.
Step inside the Seltos and you’ll immediately notice a really premium layout. The steering wheel controls are neat and tidy, and there’s a large infotainment display with no shortage of creature comforts.
Focusing on the infotainment system, the 10.25-inch touchscreen is an ideal size. Kia splits the home screen into thirds allowing you to view mini map, music details, and trip information all at once.
The onboard navigation and mapping is relatively simple to use, and has a huge list of points of interest (even wineries!) allowing you to easily find things when you know what you want to do, but don’t know where you want to do it.
We did notice, however, the mapping doesn’t include some recently-opened roads we found ourselves on, and unfortunately we couldn’t see a method to update this ourselves. Kia does offer free mapping updates, but you’ll need to visit your dealer to have it done.
Shifting to music it was great to see DAB/FM/AM radio and wired connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio sounds excellent through the Bose eight speaker sound system fitted in this model, too.
When you do connect an Android smartphone you’ll be slightly disappointed to see it only consumes two thirds of the display, and smacks an Android Auto logo on the other third. It’s sad to see a large display not being used to its full potential, especially when you’re planning to use it for navigation.
Apple CarPlay does fit the the entire display and works as you expect, including support for iOS14 and the updated version of CarPlay.
The buttons lining the display are largely self explanatory, and Kia has added a custom button allowing you to assign your own function. It could be a quick switch to CarPlay, your phone, or Bluetooth audio. It’s a nice touch.
Digging through the settings, we were surprised to see a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. While we appreciate this, we’re going to gamble that people are unlikely to suffer from eye strain from using an infotainment system. How much time are people spending looking at the display?
As mentioned in the introduction, the commercial for the Seltos shows the interior glowing and pulsing colourful lights. You’ll find the controls for this listed under ‘Sound mood lamp’. You can select from six themes or eight colours. We knew it wouldn’t be very noticeable in daylight, and waited until dark to take the Seltos out to experience the ‘party time’ theme.
Remembering the experience in the TV commercial, we even played the same song and looked around the interior while parked.
The music sounded great but the glow, while it’s there, is not close to the glow sticks I used at U18 discos. We double checked the settings and tried different themes, but would have found this a let down if we wanted the car to really glow.
The steering wheel features a voice assistant button, but it only works if you have a smartphone connected. This is because it triggers the Apple or Google assistant, not one from Kia.
If you don’t have a smartphone this is a potential problem – but for most people, this is the voice assistant you’d prefer. Other controls are as you’d expect, such as volume, audio track, and phone controls, along with toggles for the radar cruise.
The driver also has a 7.0-inch display living between the two analogue dials for speed and revs. The display can show you driving information, attention levels, and radar cruise graphics, but doesn’t provide an extension of the onboard navigation beyond a compass.
It would be great to see Kia make more use of this display, especially given it looks so good.
The unexpected benefit in the Seltos was the head-up display, which projects onto a motorised plastic screen that rises when the car is turned on. This provides speed information and navigation instructions.
The plastic screen is not adjustable for the various heights of drivers, but was still viewable regardless. A front window projection does look and perform better, but to see a head-up display of any kind in a vehicle at this price point is very impressive.
Connections around the car are generous. Those in the front have access to a 12V socket, two USB ports, and a wireless charging pad. Given the wireless charging, it would have been nice to have wireless Apple CarPlay. For those in the back, a single USB port is available to share.
The space surrounding the transmission has been fitted with nine buttons to control things like the heated and cooling seats, heated steering wheel, and rear-view camera. The air conditioning controls are in their own panel, allowing you to manage the single-zone air conditioning away from the infotainment system.
The infotainment system in the Kia Seltos has the features you want, provides a large display, and is dead simple to use.
Although there’s plenty for the Billie Eilish crowd, there’s also enough substance to back up the style and make this a car friendly for new parents, old parents, and grandparents as well.