Every once in a while we, as automotive scribes, find ourselves with two vehicles in quick succession that are intensely similar – in my case, having recently reviewed the Kia Seltos CRDi automatic, I now have the manual version.
Other than the fact the one is stick shift, the manual is also an EX versus the EX+ of the auto I had – and this means the major spec difference is cloth seats on the manual instead of leather dressing on the auto.
Looks, size, space and instrumentation are all identical so do not bear repeating here and those can all be found in my earlier review at https://colin-on-cars.com/2020/10/30/colin-on-cars-road-review-kia-seltos-1-5-crdi-ex/
Both versions have the 1 493 cc UII common-rail direct injection engine, featuring a variable geometry turbo-charger. This engine delivers 86 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque between 1 500 r/min and 2 750 r/min.
Acceleration to 100 km/h is completed in 11,5 seconds, with a maximum speed of 176 km/h. CO2 emissions in the combined cycle are 134 g/km on models equipped with a manual transmission and 151 g/km in automatic variants.
Fuel use was impressive for a vehicle that is noticeably larger than many in its class and my highway average (120 km/h) came in at 5,3 l/100 km with urban use at 6,1 l/100 km.
Standard features include air-conditioning, automatic headlight control (including an ‘escort’ and ‘welcome home’ function), electrically adjustable side mirrors with integrated indicators, steering wheel-mounted remote controls, power windows, cruise control, and an 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates a radio with RDS, linked to six speakers.
The latter includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone mirroring, as well as Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition and has charging USB ports for front and rear passengers. A full-sized spare wheel is standard.
All models are equipped with six crash bags as standard: one for the driver, one for the front passenger, two side bags for the driver and front passenger, as well as two side curtain bags that stretch across the length of the cabin.
All Seltos models also feature ISOFIX child seat anchors, anti-lock brakes, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), as well as rear park distance control sensors and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, integrated into the vehicle’s touchscreen infotainment system. Central locking and an immobiliser are also standard across the range.
Now, Mrs W has a keen eye for detail, so I gave her some seat time as both passenger and driver in order to glean an opinion, not specifically as a woman, but as one who sees all (and married male readers will know just what that means).
One of her first comments was to praise the seats as being large enough for a normal human being and not designed for an emaciated ramp model with, importantly, a good level of thigh support and – obviously – enough adjustment options to find exactly the right position.
She liked – as did I – the fairly minimalistic look of the dashboard layout as well as the tactile sensation from the soft touch materials. Importantly, as pointed out to me, the near flush door handle mechanisms were well planned and certain never to catch a handbag strap.
Also ticked is the satin-style finish of the handles but the dash fascia in front of the passenger that features tiny braille-like nodules, she declared a ‘dust trap’.
The 433 litres of load capacity saw another tick mark, as did the fact the load floor is nigh flush with the bumper. Albeit it a tad high – but it is a SUV – it did not require anything to be hoisted over a lip.
Mrs W is a cautious overtaker and likes several hundred metres of clear road so was impressed with the rapid throttle response even in sixth gear when she needed it.
The Seltos in EX specification is handsomely appointed and in many ways bats well above average in terms of economy, ride comfort, road manners and general demeanour, making it a good choice as primary transport including for long-haul users.
Manual or automatic – well, that comes down to simple personal preference.