Automakers aren’t abandoning the small, budget-friendly car segment; they’re simply putting their cheapest models on stilts and consequently making them a little bit more expensive. Kia followed the path blazed by sister company Hyundai when it unveiled a model named Seltos that slots at the very bottom of its crossover and SUV lineup. The model made its official debut in India, and it’s due out globally by the end of 2019.
Kia explained it designed the Seltos for young, tech-savvy buyers. It wears a rugged-looking front end characterized by a tall, upright grille flanked by thin lights that stretch into the hood. It shares a handful of key styling cues with existing members of the Kia portfolio without completely copying another car. It’s not a bigger Soul, or a Telluride that shrank in the wash.
The Seltos is relatively small and cheap, but it’s not spartan. Because it’s openly aimed at Millennials, it offers a long list of standard and optional tech features including a 10.25-inch touchscreen with a split-screen function for the infotainment system, a head-up display, as well as a feature Kia calls Sound Mood lighting. It’s an ambient lighting system that turns the cabin into a nightclub on wheels — minus the burly security guards and the overpriced drinks– by pulsing to the beat of the music playing from the stereo. The passengers have eight lighting colors and six themes to choose from.
When the party is over, the UVO app lets users remotely access information about the Seltos (like diagnostic data), and about the trips they’ve taken recently. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices.
Drivers will likely need an internet-connected infotainment system to explain the name Seltos to their passengers. It traces its roots to Greece — Celtos is the son of Hercules in Greek mythology. Kia replaced the c with an s to underline the crossover’s speed and sportiness, though there’s little indication the Seltos will be a true high-performance machine — it’s not going to go head-to-head with a Porsche Cayenne Coupe, but we’re hoping it will be more dynamic to drive than other cars in its competitive set.
Kia hasn’t published information about the American-spec Seltos; we don’t even know if the model is coming to the United States. Globally, it will be available with a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder rated at 177 horsepower, a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter with 149 hp on tap, and a 136-hp, 1.6-liter turbodiesel. All three engines will shift through an automatic transmission, but Kia hasn’t revealed whether the Seltos will be front-wheel drive-only, or if some variants will be available with all-wheel drive.
Kia will manufacture the Seltos in India and in its home country of South Korea. The company clearly called the Seltos a global model, but it hasn’t confirmed plans to sell it in the United States yet. There is “nothing to confirm for the U.S. market at this time,” a company representative told Digital Trends.
Updated June 20, 2019: Added statement from Kia.
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