A car for the people

It is not often the base model of any particular brand that gets all the attention.

But that’s exactly what’s going on with the Kia Seltos. The jaw dropper is the entry level LX when it comes to value for money.

At $25,990, it is way cheaper than similar SUVs on the market. And that’s not the end of the story.

After being invited to test drive the Seltos by the team at Tauranga Motor Company on Cameron Rd, I was intrigued to see just what you get for this tiny price tag.

First up is the first impressions. The Seltos LX comes in quite a stunning ‘snow white pearl’, ‘steel grey’, or in my case an attractive ‘cherry black’. There are a couple of dual-tone colours available but you have to pay another $500 for those.

Personally, I’d be more than happy with the white or the cherry black so it’s a tick for the colour choices. I also quite like the big grill at the front and the narrow side windows make for an attractive design. The grill at the back and the protective plate complete what is a great looking vehicle.

Inside is roomy with dark cloth trim, a well-considered cabin design, and plenty of storage for cups and tablets and general items.

That generous cabin provides loads of headroom and heaps of legroom in the front and in the back, for even the tallest of people. The rear seats will comfortably take three adults.

This is a medium-sized SUV and there is heaps of room for everyone. The rear luggage compartment is large compared to similar models. Once the back seats are folded down it allows for a huge amount of gear.

In fact, when I was returning the vehicle to the yard later, a man wandered off the street to check out the room in the back to see if his wife’s semi-collapsible wheelchair would fit. No problems there, he reckoned. He had seen the price and the spec’s online and was pretty excited about it all.

So far the Seltos has ticked every box so it’s time to head out of the yard and take it for a drive around Tauranga, out into the Kaimai Range and then back across to The Mount.

The Seltos is powered by a 2 litre engine which delivers a pleasing 110kw or 148hp. This is combined with Kia’s new ‘intelligent variable transmission’, which is a lot smoother than most CVT’s. There is plenty of power when you need it and it still provides good average fuel consumption of 6.8 litres per 100km, according to Kia’s specifications.

Comfort was obviously a big consideration with the design of the base model and the ride quality and handling is excellent.

What really surprised me about the Seltos LX is the extras you get and the way they perform.

For example the active lane keep assist feels reliable and well-designed, nudging you away from the white lines when you get too close. A good positive action that gives you some assurance. Parking sensors in the rear provide a handy warning when reversing or parking.

It also has forward collision avoidance assistance, which means sensors will detect an imminent collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian and trigger an alert. Ultimately the brakes will activate autonomously if the driver doesn’t react in time.

That is some serious technology for a vehicle in this price bracket but definitely one of those modern safety features that you wouldn’t want to compromise on.

Buyers of the base model also won’t be left wanting when it comes to entertainment. The 8” touchscreen doesn’t have the navigation system of the high spec models but you can connect your smartphone to the screen via Apple Car Play or Android Auto. There are six speakers positioned around the cabin.

All in all, the LX is my pick of the line-up when it comes to the Kia Seltos - the introductory price just makes it such good value. It is does create a $10k jump in price to the next model up - the LX-plus – but even that is very well specced compared to the competition.

Because of this popularity you will have to book in a test drive with the team down at Tauranga Motor Company. Definitely one to put at the top of the list for those who want value for money.

Spec’s

Model: Kia Seltos LX

Engine: 2-litre DOHC petrol

Transmission: Intelligent variable transmission

Power: 110kw or 148hp

Torque: 180Nm @ 4500rpm

Price: Introductory price, as tested $25,990


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