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        Kia Seltos IMT — First Drive Review

        Ninad Ambre

        Ninad Ambre

        Why I would buy it

        • Clutch-less gear shifts
        • Big car at the price of a compact SUV

        Why I would avoid it

        • iMT not available in top-end variant
        • No hill-hold function on offer

        Engine and performance

        Kia Seltos Engine Shot

        Powertrain choices for the Seltos, in general, include a wide variety of combinations. For example, there's a 113bhp 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine that comes mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque-converter automatic. Then, there's a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo-petrol unit mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT automatic gearbox. And finally, there's another petrol model in the form of this 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol mill that produces 113bhp of power and 144Nm of torque. It comes with various transmission options like a six-speed manual, a CVT auto gearbox, and this six-speed iMT clutch-less manual, which we are sampling.

        Kia Seltos Gear Shifter/Gear Shifter Stalk

        The engine starts at the push of a button and settles into a quiet idling. Its noise can hardly be heard inside the cabin. Then, there are no unwanted vibrations to report, whether on the gear-lever or the steering wheel. Now to get going, keep your right leg on the brake, slot it in first gear, and start releasing the brake pedal. You'll see the car advances ahead. You can start accelerating and as the revs build, just keep slotting in the higher gears. Similarly, when you have to downshift. The car in fact suggests which gear you have to be in and you eventually get a hang of it. Another good thing is that you can start off in the second gear without having to always put it in the first gear.

        Kia Seltos Right Side View

        Now, this is quite a rev-happy and refined engine allowing you to rev till its redline at 6,300rpm. Power delivery is quite linear and though it does take time to progress it never felt underpowered. This is clear as the car did 0-100kmph in 13.39 seconds, while a 20-80kmph run came up in 12.44 seconds and 40-100kmph in 17.17 seconds. So the only thing is, you will have constantly shift to lower gears and plan well while overtaking. The in-gear acceleration and sprint timings suggest the same. But then, the gear shifts are smooth and since there’s no clutch pedal, your left leg is always at ease. Now, there’s not really a rollback issue with the IMT. One should understand that only the proper automatic variants of the Seltos get the hill-hold function. This one doesn't get it and hence will still act as a manual car on a slope. But the good thing is that you let go off the brake pedal, accelerate a bit, and it starts going ahead without any hassle.

        Kia Seltos Right Front Three Quarter

        Lest we forget, the ARAI-rated fuel efficiency of this trim is 16.5kmpl. In our tests, it returned 10.15kmpl in the city and 17.73kmpl on the highway. This brings us to an average of 13.94kmpl, which isn't bad for a car of this size and capacity. 

        Kia Seltos Right Rear Three Quarter

        Ride and Handling

        Now, three turns lock-to-lock is a little extra effort, but the steering is light and makes the car easy to drive. While taking some corners you do feel a little more feedback from the steering would have been delightful for an SUV that drives and behaves like a car. And unless you are too fast in a corner, body roll is manageable and it sticks to its line. The Good year tyres offer satisfactory grip but the brakes could have had a better bite and do not provide that assurance you get with all-disc brakes. Nonetheless, they work well and drop the anchor quickly to stop from 100-0kmph in just 3.02s and covering 42.25m.

        Kia Seltos Left Front Three Quarter

        Now, the 16-inch alloys and 190mm ground clearance give it sufficient height to go over obstacles and bumps without scraping its underbody. Besides, its suspension set-up is well-tuned for our road conditions taking potholes and broken roads in its stride with ease. Though a little on the firmer side, it irons out any bouncy feel and offers a well-balanced ride.

        Kia Seltos Left Rear Three Quarter

        Exterior

        Styling or design-wise there’s no big change apart from the fact that it’s based on the HTK+ version. So, it gets projector headlights and fog lamps instead of LED ones. The shape of the light housing is the same with LED DRLs but with halogen bulbs, the same for the taillights. The alloy wheels have a different pattern, but the overall stance, appeal, and presence are still like a proper five-seater SUV and not a small crossover.

        Kia Seltos Right Rear Three Quarter

        Comfort, Convenience and Features

        Now, the Seltos is a sufficiently large and spacious car as compared to its competition. And you can feel it as soon as you step in. It does have a no-fuss cabin with on-point ergonomics and also offers good outward visibility. Even the ideal legroom is good enough hinting that with all people on board, occupants will not feel cramped at all whether they are short, tall, or even healthy.

        Kia Seltos Dashboard

        Now, this is the HTK+ version and not the top-spec HTX+ or GTX version that you've seen earlier. So this one lacks some equipment, but the good thing is - that nothing much has changed in terms of layout and design. And despite a slightly smaller touchscreen and absence of some equipment like a head-up display, purifier, and wireless charging pad, it's still a nicely laid out dash. We've said this earlier and it still continues to look refreshing. In fact, it has rightly set a benchmark of what we've come to expect from SUVs these days be it for fit and finish, look and feel, and in general the quality of materials used inside.

        Kia Seltos Front Row Seats

        That said, the sunroof is smaller, not a huge panoramic one. And there are no ventilated seats in the front. In fact, these are fabric seats and I would have still preferred the leatherette seats. The fabric with this lighter colour will get spoiled easily. Yet, the beige shade does help in adding to the sense of space while the seats remain quite supportive. With the good amount of legroom and headroom available inside, even tall individuals will be able to find a comfortable seating position, whether in the front or the back seat.

        Kia Seltos Second Row Seats

        In terms of boot space, the area is the same as the top-spec Seltos. However, there are no split-folding rear seats but a single backrest as seen in the lower variants. You can drop this backrest flat. So, there's still an option to liberate more space even if you lose the versatility to partly use this space in different ways. That said, the 433litres of boot space is one of the best in its segment with a wide opening for a long and tall boot. Interestingly, it can accommodate an extra-large suitcase. Otherwise, two large suitcases can fit in with still space for more soft bags. 

        Kia Seltos Infotainment System

        Conclusion

        Kia Seltos Left Side View

        The Seltos, like the Creta for that matter, offers a wide range of options for customers. Not only in terms of features but also engine and transmission options. And that too, at different price points. No wonder, it still manages to ace its game when it comes to its competition. It continues to drive growth for the carmaker, especially with its extensive array of variants to meet different customer demands. It's got a contemporary design, up-to-date features, plenty of engine-gearbox options, and a raft of modern gadgetry. If you still wish to have more features like terrain modes and driving modes, there's the proper automatic for you. Still, this IMT version at an ex-showroom price of Rs 12.39 lakh is slotted right in the middle of the portfolio, offering the benefits of a manual without the use of a clutch pedal. Yes, it might still take time for plenty of buyers to warm up to this IMT technology, but the ones who adopt it will surely get used to it.

        Pictures by Kapil Angane

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