The Kia Seltos features sporty accents in its exterior and interior.
Kia Seltos GT Line: Cool, compact crossover The Kia Seltos features sporty accents in its exterior and interior. PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH

The Kia Seltos competes in a rather crowded compact crossover segment populated by the likes of Honda's HR-V, Toyota's C-HR, Mazda's CX-30, MG's HS and Hyundai's Kona.

The initial launch variant is the top GT Line, with a 1.4-litre turbo engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission - the same drivetrain as the Hyundai i30's if it is returned for sport utility vehicle (SUV) duties.

It produces 140hp, 11hp more than the i30.

Do not expect it to handle like a nimble hatchback, though. The suspension set-up is comfort-biased, coupled with high sidewall tyres for good bump absorption over patchwork city roads.

The Seltos is not lacking in acceleration, though, especially in Sport mode. Just do not get too exuberant along winding roads. If under-steer roll around fast bends - typical of SUVs - does not discourage you to back off on the accelerator, the numb power steering certainly will.

As a crossover, the Seltos has a few tricks up its sleeves. Apart from Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes, it has Mud, Snow and Sand terrain modes. These give it some off-road cred, even if the car is merely a front-wheel-drive.

Fuel economy-wise, the car managed 7.6 litres/100km over 80km of mostly highway driving - not far off Kia's claimed 6.3 litres.

The Seltos scores on its athletic good looks. Projecting an outdoorsy image is a bold upright face, with Kia's signature "tiger nose" grille flanked by full LED headlights. Elsewhere, rugged matt-black plastic clad the lower sills and wheel arches.

More sporty accents can be found in the modern cabin, such as red stitching trim and "GT Line" embossed on the front seats and steering wheel. It gets a classy leather-wrapped helm, which looks to be Mercedes-Benz-inspired, down to the multi-function controls.

For wow factor, there are features more commonly found in premium cars. Wireless charging, ventilated front seats, rear-door window sunshades and a sunroof are standard-issue.

Either an 8-inch or 10.25-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity takes centre stage on the dash.

Other frills include music-pulsating mood lighting for the front door speakers (barely visible in daylight), and a pop-up head-up display.

In contrast, the cabin is lined with rather cheap-looking hard plastics.

The single-zone automatic air-conditioner with rear vents is super efficient, capable of cooling the interior on hot days even at its lowest fan speed.

The 433-litre boot gets a bumper sill-level floorboard, making it easy to slide heavier objects in and out. Rear seatbacks can be lowered to increase stowage capacity.

Overall, the Kia Seltos is a practical all-rounder with ample space, decent pace and a comfortable ride suited for Singapore's urban jungle.

From $112,999, it stands out as a value buy, with its sporty trim and nifty premium features.

The GT Line will be joined by an SX variant at about $5,000 less and a base EX variant at $15,000 or so less.