The Superior Encore—The 2024 Kia Seltos

Let’s face it, the regular consumer doesn’t really realize that every auto brand with a new vehicle offering in the market has to contend with two major things—competing with a dizzying number of current and new nameplates with their respective sets of variants, and keeping pace with the EV bandwagon. With the former, it’s about jostling for the potential customer’s attention with a good value-for-money proposition in terms of features and amenities over the sticker price (on top of getting them to have a closer look in the first place, by the merit of their new models’ aesthetics). And the latter, is mainly about upselling the advantages of owning an EV, and why their own lineup of EVs is better than the other brands’, all the while keeping their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)-powered models compelling and relevant. Well, this article is not about how the auto brands juggle those two factors, or the pros and cons of EVs and ICEs. It’s about how a brand can keep a refreshed model (not an all-new one) competitive and desirable despite those two major factors that are in play.

Photos by Ardie O. Lopez

Enter the new, 2024 Kia Seltos. Yes, this model is not an all-new iteration of the Seltos brought in by Kia several years back. It’s new via a major update, or rather via a significant upgrade. I remember joining the media drive for the first-gen Seltos and recall how I was thoroughly impressed by its sprightly demeanor and precise handling. Back then, its aesthetics were already refreshingly distinct. In fact, I feel the previous Seltos can still hold its own today in terms of looks; but it’s amazing how a few design updates can breathe new life to this refresh. 

The new Seltos is decidedly a compact SUV in terms of the category it’s in, as opposed to numerous nameplates from other brands that kind of blur the line between crossovers and SUVs. This Seltos retains a more traditional SUV silhouette, more upright, slightly boxy, and sizeable. But thanks to its dual-tier LED headlight clusters, a very cohesively designed and smart-looking rear end, just the right amount of well-placed creases on its symmetrically proportioned body, it’s a handsome, sporty-looking SUV that’ll garner its fair share of double takes on the road. Sure, it may appear on the conservative side when lined up with its counterparts from other brands that have more adventurous designs, but you can rest assured this new Seltos’ aesthetics will have a respectable shelf life.

I had the most seat time in the top-of-the-line SX model that’s equipped with a 1.4-liter turbo gasoline engine, mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. Its power rating is an ample 140ps at 6,000 rpm, and 242 Newton-meters of torque that kicks in at 1,500 rpm. It’s ample in the sense that the power it delivers in terms of acceleration and the ease of cruising at 3-digit speeds is remarkable, especially since our dash from Manila to Batangas for that particular drive was quite spirited, and I had three adults as passengers, plus some cargo. You’d actually need to get used to modulating its gas pedal in a gentle manner so as not to dart forward in acceleration. There is a slight turbo lag that isn’t difficult to get used to in terms of timing your overtaking maneuvers, and incorporating it into your driving style. And since it’s a 1.4L turbo engine that I was putting through its paces, its fuel-efficiency was commendable, yielding a 10-11 km/liter average consumption. And we were pushing it on a fast convoy. The biggest upgrades on this new Seltos, though, apart from the engine, are the smart active-safety features that include Adaptive Cruise Control with stop and go function, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Following Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, and of course the now typically standard ABS, Stability Control and Hill-start Assist. It also has multiple Drive Modes to choose from, for when you’re either being frugal or adventurous. 

I found the interior very intuitive, but bordering on the bland in terms of design. I like the dual 10.25” displays that seamlessly merge the virtual instrumentation with the touch-screen main interface that are bright and crisp even under very bright light. Connectivity is quick and painless for Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The sound quality of its speakers is very good where it matters (up front, more than in the back seat). You’d enjoy your digital playlist with the detailed and clean audio its nameless speakers deliver.  I’ve spotted at least 3 USB ports, two of which are Type-C already (one port situated at the back, for the three passengers to bicker about). Thankfully there are rear AC vents, too, but without its independent fan and temperature controls. There’s a wireless charging pad up front as well. 

The Seltos’ ride is smooth and comfortable, with struts up front and a coupled torsion beam at the rear. Combine that with good head room, generous leg room at the rear, and a panoramic sunroof, and the cabin feels spacious and airy (without sacrificing cargo space). 

Will the upgrades on the new Seltos be enough for it to be a compelling choice among the new models flooding the market? I believe that it offers a solid proposition in terms of being an all-around feature-packed, tight-handling, fuel-efficient and amply powered compact SUV, whose qualities are better realized when one is behind the wheel. This will appeal to the more sensible and discerning potential customer, who is not easily snared by flashy and trendy design cues, who prioritizes what really matters in choosing the right car. In that department, the new Kia Seltos just about covers it. 

The 2024 Kia Seltos 1.4 SX Turbo DCT is priced at PhP1.688M, with its two other 1.5L non-turbo variants, the 1.5 EX IVT CVT at PhP1.288M, and the 1.5 LX IVT CVT at PhP1.198M.

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