Ownership Experience of Kia Seltos GTX + MT 1.4 T-GDI
October 2019, a month when my life changed quite a bit. I bought my first car, the brand spanking new, Kia Seltos GTX + MT 1.4 T-GDI in a Punchy Orange colour (that was the only one available with the dealer in the top model), after excruciatingly long months of waiting. Also, had to settle for an MT rather than the AT that I had booked. The car is now 1 yr and 06 months old with 16k kms on the odo.
The initial experience of waiting and getting the delivery of the car was as painful as one could imagine with a rear seat in a brand new car with a pen ink mark. Needless to say, travelling to an entirely different city just to buy my car, I settled for it with the promise of a solution for the damaged seat, that I got thankfully after four long months and lengthy verbal battles on the phone and social media.
So after taking the delivery of my car along with my wife, I drove it 700kms the day after, back to my place of residence (New Delhi to Jammu), that did not have a fully functional dealership at that time to my knowledge. My first experience with the car was good as I was simply dumbstruck with the power and acceleration of the punchy engine. Gradually as I got more used to the car, I realised that the shift from 1st to 2nd gear, especially while crossing speed breakers needs some clutch effort or downright downshifting to 1st.
The 1st and 2nd gears in the car seem oddly spaced out and I feel thats down to the fact that Kia may have used the same 6 speed MT that does not suit the 1.4 Turbo engine perhaps as much as the other two engines. An exclusive gearbox, or something a bit better may have been more welcome. Also, after 16k kms, the gearbox is quite notchy. The service center lubricated it but its back to the same after 1k km. I even had a weird judder in the 3rd gear while accelerating for the initial 10-12k km that the company reps could not identify till date.
The initial experience with the stock Goodyear Assurance tyres was as poor as many other Hyundai customers. The tyres lack grip and the wheels spun easily due to the turbo petrol's torquey nature. I was so fed up that i shifted to Michelin Primacy 4 ST after just 1200km and have been using them since. I recently changed my front two tyres to Bridgestone dueler due to a sidewall rupture on one of the michelins and I must say they are even better suited to the seltos and would be my recommendation to any other owner looking for a change of tyres. The suspension of the Seltos is already quite stiff and the higher speed and load index michelins simply bounce off speed breakers if not careful with your speed. That is another issue I have with my Seltos. While the four disc brake setup is quite good, if you are not slow enough on speed breakers or undulations, the front wheels tend to literally bounce off. My front left suspension is already out of alignment tolerance levels and I have been advised by two tyre dealers outside to get it replaced under warranty. The downside to crossing speed breakers really slowly is that the 2nd gear is simply too weak and you have to go down to 1st which leaves you with sudden acceleration and jerky motion in traffic.
Infotainment system is responsive, easy to use with good features and controls........when it works smoothly. The system is quite buggy and half the time after engaging and disengaing reverse gear, I'm left with non functional steering controls or the entire system hangs or restarts without warning. This is even after the latest update of the MY19 model. Yes, you have different updates for MY19 and MY20 models as Kia has used a different modem and processor in the newer model for the voice commands. The Bose sytem is loud and quite clear but lacks any bass whatsoever. I had to get Door damping and an underseat sub installed by a professional to get my expected or desired output from the Bose setup and because my door panels rattled on bad roads and half of the Bose volume. The system itself otherwise is stock. OTA updates of the UVO sytem are also not yet available, which is a downer and wireless Android Auto and Apple Car play would have been welcome. The HUD is also more of a show off feature with very limited infor,mation that gets loose and starts vibrating after open usage on bad roads.
I went in for the top model only for the Ventilated Seats and the Sun Roof. While both are functionally good, Kia should have some seat cover options for the light coloured ventilated ones on the GTX+. Keeping them clean is an arduous task and I have managed so far, but I wonder how much longer before I get a stain and can't even put a cover on them. The rear seat backrest gave many problems of rattling and has already been adjusted thrice. The front passenger seat backrest also vibrates like crazy when empty and can become a distraction on bad roads in your peripheral vision. This issue is yet to be addressed. Confort wise the seats are good and better than MG Hector in my opinion.
The quality of the plastics of the interior panels is quite poor in my opinion. while the fit of the panels except for the doors is sturdy, the plastic feels worse than my Dad's Maruti 800 1998 model (The last Japanese Engine model). The panels feel hard to the touch and can get damaged even by ladies gold bangles. The rear parcel tray also vibrates like crazy and i had to put layers of insulation tape in its attachment knob to make it a snug fit. The door panels have some sort of weird internal vibration that I have to get checked (I feel it could be the tweeters coming loose).
The paint quality is one of the worst aspects of the Kia Seltos. In 1.5 yrs my car has more stone chips than my Dad's 2010 Honda Jazz that has done 75k on the odo mostly on highways. While some would put it down to luck, the paint is even chipping off from the rear underside of the Bonnet which cannot be hit by any debris. There is no point of getting a ceramic coating (which I have), when the paint is so weak. A button on a trouser should ideally only scratch the paint if someone sits or leans on the car, however, the paint in this case has come right off when a stranger has done the same on my car door somewhere. Kia should consider applying at least one more layer of paint if not two.
Finally the Engine and drivability
The engine is simply a killer in this car and had it not been for its perfomance, I would have considered selling off the car after a year owing to the number of problems I have already faced. It pushes you into your seat and gives you the thrill of the power of the cheaper luxury cars. The only car in India under 20 lakhs that can go from 0-100 under 10 secs, means something something. However, here too my car gives a random issue that the company fails to recognise or diagnose. During acceleration beyond 2000 RPM, the car sometimes just loses power completely for about a second or two and gives a judder and again comes to life. The company calls this turbo lag or the turbo charger kicking in, which I simply laugh at having driven my fair share of cars. I recognise this issue each time as it is my car and I am its daily driver, however, any newbie or even the company reps, who seem like they want to overlook any customer issue, fail to diagnose it, as their so called ECU diagnostics dont show anything. In addition, my car gives an unbelievably poor mileage for a 1.4 l engine. I manage 9-10 kmpl in the city and 11-12.5 on the highway with as low as 6-8 in smaller cantonment areas. According to the company there is nothing wrong with the car, which I want to believe but the facts dont allow me to. After the recent service, the car has also starting taking really long self starts that get me worried, what if one day it doesn't start. My new place of posting doesn't have a dealership or service center and the nearest service center is 150 km away in Pune.
While Kia is a reputed brand with good sales and service worldwide. I am left deeply disappointed with the overall quality of their product and their sales and service establishment and technical know how in India. The updates the brought out withing 03 months of launch in MY20 model should have been offered to older initial customers, even if at a cost, as they took a leap of faith into the brand. Sadly, they are not compatible with the MY19 model, or the company is too lazy to do it.
Overall I am left disappointed and sadenned and I have to live with it for another 7 years at least.
I am an auto enthusiast who also owns a 2017 Duke 390 upgraded with powertronic. I am also a Mechanical Engineer, so i know a bit about what I feel and see in automobiles and I am disappointed with what kia has offered, at least to us initial customers.
Cheers and Take Care, to all Readers. Any owners who faced similar problems, please do share, so we may collectively get a solution.