Kia Australia has watched with increasing agony the flurry of compact SUVs flooding the Australian market, as it patiently awaits a baby crossover contender of its own to drop from its Seoul headquarters.
The compact SUV segment now features players from virtually every company, including Mazda’s CX-3, the Mitsubishi ASX, Toyota’s C-HR and Honda’s HR-V. Even Kia’s parent company – and arch rival – Hyundai has the Kona.
Now, though, the first images of Kia’s baby SUV, the Seltos, have dropped, and it's slated to arrive down under in October.
Few details are known, but it’s safe to assume that it shares underpinnings with cars like the Hyundai Kona and i30, and Kia’s own Cerato.
It also follows that the Seltos – derived from the name of the son of Hercules, Celtos, we’re told – will share similar engine and drivetrain combos with its platform buddies.
Expect a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine driving the front wheels, along with a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder alternative. All-wheel-drive will likely feature on the options list, too.
Kia is fond of offering a base-level car with a manual gearbox, but we’d wager the majority of sales will be for automatic versions. Likewise, Kia offers a couple of diesel options across its SUV range, and there’s a suggestion that the Seltos will be available with an oiler.
At the other end of the fuel spectrum, the Seltos’s underpinnings will allow Kia to offer both a hybrid and an electric version down the track.
On the inside, sketches reveal a 10.25-inch integrated multimedia system that will incorporate smartphone mirroring, while niceties like LED interior mood lighting, a digital dash, inductive phone charging and more will feature across the range.
Also expect a full suite of up-to-date driver aids like AEB, lane departure warning, front- and rear-cross traffic alert and 360-degree cameras.
Given its size, the Seltos will be a five-seat, five-door proposition only. The relatively horizontal roofline means that rear-seaters should have a bit of room, though the closing window line behind the c-pillar will likely reduce visibility and light ingress.
The Seltos will drop into Kia’s local line-up as its smallest SUV, thanks to the recent culling of the brand’s quirky but slow-selling Soul crossover. It will sit below the popular mid-sized Sportage, and there’s certainly a visual connection between the two, even given the Sportage’s relative age.
The local Kia SUV range is topped by the large Sorento SUV, which is offered in both diesel and petrol variants.
With the Seltos expected to land in Australia towards the end of 2019, there is room potentially underneath it size-wise to add a sub-compact SUV.
While Hyundai has made noises about such a vehicle, the jury is out as to whether it will actually emerge, and whether Kia will build such a beast.
Once the Seltos lands in Australia, Kia will then be looking to its Korean parent for a replacement to the Sportage, which launched in 2016, while an all-new version of the big Sorento is slated for launch in 2021.
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