The brand new entrant to the compact SUV space - the Kia Seltos - has many rivals to take on. We have a super SUV showdown with the most direct rivals slugging it out. So the Kia Seltos battles the bestselling Hyundai Creta, new sensation MG Hector and also the other new car in the segment, the Nissan Kicks in this comparison review.
The latest rage in the Indian auto market is undoubtedly the bad**s Kia Seltos. It was always a very promising car, and in the very hot compact SUV segment. But after we drove it extensively, we found it was more than promising. It was downright impressive. The launch has also offered competitive pricing. And everything that this car offers does shake up the segment. So now the logical next step was to pit it against its immediate rivals, to measure just how bad**s it really is! So (drum roll please) here they are - ready to rumble. In alphabetical order then: the Hyundai Creta, MG Hector and Nissan Kicks. Now before you jump at us and ask - 'where are the rest?' I would like to provide a rationale for why we have chosen these three.
There are two other cars at the two ends of the compact SUV segment that we have intentionally left out. The most inexpensive duo are the platform-sharing siblings - Renault Duster and Renault Captur and the cars that really do qualify more as midsize than compact - The Tata Harrier and Jeep Compass - at the pricier, larger end. The Kia Seltos kind of operates right in the sweet spot of the segment, and so from customer relevance and pricing perspectives, it made sense to leave those out. The Hyundai Creta has been the undisputed benchmark in the segment, since it arrived in 2015. It received a comprehensive facelift in early 2018, and is still a very relevant and extremely popular product.
The arrival of the Kia Seltos and indeed the MG Hector has also introduced us to connected car. To be fair the Creta's smaller sibling - the Hyundai Venue subcompact SUV did it even before those two. But let's stick to this segment shall we? Kia's UVO Connect has 37 features that include geo-fencing, remote lock/unlock, etc. The Seltos' 10.2-inch touchscreen allows you to access most of them, and of course there is also a smartphone app to be able to remotely do so too. MG's iSmart offers over 50 features. In the Hector's case access is through a huge 10.4-inch vertical HD screen. And the Hector does away with all the buttons on the dashboard, with the screen offering everything you need - sort of like Volvo's Sensus. There's also a virtual assistant you can "Hello MG" into many functions through over 100 voice commands. The screen also comes pre-loaded with content like audio and video as well as maps.
The Nissan Kicks is the least equipped SUV in the comparison that we have here. But then, the Kicks does have some USPs, like the 360 degree surround camera that let's you look around the car when reversing or parking. Had Nissan introduced features like these a couple of years ago - when the competition was thin - its Terrano, and then the follow up with Kicks would have meant the cars were more relevant. The Kicks is not a connected car of course, but still gives you all the smartphone connectivity you want. In fact most cars (at their top spec) do offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or at least MirrrorLink, so hands free phone usage is now commonplace. But this round clearly goes to the MG Hector with the Kia Seltos in close second place, followed by the Nissan Kicks and the Hyundai Creta.
Engine and Performance
|Diesel||Kia Seltos||Hyundai Creta 1.4||Hyundai Creta 1.6||MG Hector||Nissan Kicks|
|Displacement||1493 cc||1396 cc||1582 cc||1956 cc||1461 cc|
|Power Output||113 bhp at 4000 rpm||89 bhp at 4000 rpm||126 bhp at 4000 rpm||168 bhp at 3750 rpm||108 bhp at 3850 rpm|
|Peak Torque||250 Nm at 2750 rpm||220 Nm at 2750 rpm||260 Nm at 6000 rpm||350 Nm at 2500 rpm||240 Nm at 1750 rpm|
|Transmission||6 Speed MT / 6 Speed Torque Convertor AT||6 Speed MT||6 Speed MT / 6 Speed AT||6 Speed MT||6 Speed MT|
|Petrol||Kia Seltos 1.4||Kia Seltos 1.5||Hyundai Creta||MG Hector||Nissan Kicks|
|Displacement||1353 cc||1497 cc||1591 cc||1451 cc||1498 cc|
|Power Output||138 bhp at 6000 rpm||113 bhp at 6300 rpm||121 bhp at 6400 rpm||141 bhp at 5000 rpm||106 bhp at 5600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||242 Nm at 3200 rpm||144 Nm at 4500 rpm||151 Nm at 4850 rpm||250 Nm at 3600 rpm||142 Nm at 4000 rpm|
|Transmission||6-Speed MT / 7 Speed DCT||6 Speed MT / IVT||6 Speed MT / 6 Speed AT||6 Speed MT / 6 Speed DCT||5 Speed MT|
With gadgets done, we get to what really counts. The Seltos sets a high bar with its new 1.4 litre GDi petrol engine. It also gets a 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engine option, and all three engines are BS6 compliant. While all get a 6-speed manual option of course, they each also have their own automatic. Yes the three automatic options have surprised many - and no there are no rudimentary AMTs here. Still missing the Duster? So the GDI gets a 7-speed DCT or dual clutch transmission, the 1.5-litre petrol has a CVT and the diesel gets a 6-speed torque convertor. There are two petrols so you get different price points for manual and auto variants. The company's clear strategy around BS6 diesel is also good to know. And so that is another reason why the Seltos scores really high on drivetrain.
The Creta also gets three engine options: the 1.4/1.6 diesels and a 1.6-litre petrol - all engines have a 6-Speed manual, and the two 1.6-litre engines get an optional 6-speed automatic. The Kicks gets the same 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines from the Duster/Captur but no automatic. The Hector offers a 1.5-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel engine - on the Hector. Both engines get a 6-speed manual transmission while it's the petrol that offers the optional 7-speed DCT gearbox. The petrol manual has a mild hybrid variant on offer too. The Seltos' powertrains provide the best balance of efficiency and performance. Power delivery on the 1.4 GDI is especially satisfying, but the diesel is also really fun to drive. The Creta and Kicks feel adequate while the Hector is left wanting.
Ride and Handling
Time to move on to driveability. The Nissan Kicks is the surprise here with very comfortable ride quality, it is supple and the car handles well too. The Creta does well but its steering and handling is not as sharp. And neither car can outdo the Seltos. With its measured ride and agile handling - and a suspension that is rather well tuned for India, the Seltos is far ahead of its rivals. The Hector takes a beating here, with the poorest ride quality of the 4 cars. Its steering and handling are also nowhere near the Seltos' and it's a huge negative for the Hector then. In fact this was the one clear area even the Tata Harrier had bested the Hector in our comparison of those two cars.
Space and Comfort
The Hector is the most spacious SUV of the lot. The seats are well bolstered and the occupants are ensconced in relative luxury too. The knee-room at the rear is the best and it offers more than adequate space for 5 adults to sit comfortably. In fact, it also gets a flat floor which adds to the sense of space. The doors open wider as well and that translates into better ingress and egress. So yes, it's spacious and ergonomic too. The Kicks gets lesser knee room at the rear but the seats are well bolstered and comfy - and you sit tall with a very obvious SUV-like ride feel as a result. Ergonomically though, it isn't the best, with everything not quite where it should be -especially from the driver's perspective. The Creta scores over Kicks in terms of space and comfort with better knee and shoulder room. But the seats aren't as comfortable. The Seltos once again slams a win by giving you the best of both - as much as possible. It is decent on space, is clever on rear legroom and is definitely comfortable with well-designed seats. The front seats are ventilated at the top end, and like in the Creta - the driver side seat is power adjustable.
Styling and Design
So which car looks the nicest is totally up to you as this is purely subjective. Yet my two bits here - the MG Hector is very modern looking in it face, gives you lots of chrome and LED elements to look pretty high-end, but is let down by small wheels and a dated profile. The Creta is the best proportioned and with the facelift looks very attractive and modern too. The Kicks has the most traditional SUV stance with its butch looks and chunky muscle. It looks rather smart with its two-tone roof option. It is not the only one to offer that though. The Seltos is the elegant modern looking SUV - which blends typical SUV looks with a new age appeal, LED lighting and very upmarket finish. This is also most true of its interior design over the rest. On the inside, while the Hector does look attractive, material quality is not the best. The Creta used to be dull but now has an improved interior, though plastics could still be better. The Kicks has a roomy, airy feel thanks to its cabin layout, but isn't very modern.
Features and Cabin
The Seltos is also the most heavily loaded and covers everything from a sunroof to those ventilated seats, an air purifier, and a very modern and stylish instrument cluster. Throw in the segment firsts like even the humble yet thoughtful pull-up sunshades for the rear seats, and it shines! The Hector has a panoramic sunroof and lot of options on that touchscreen too, and yes a smart digital instrument cluster too. The other two cars also have some nice features like auto wipers, touchscreens and plenty of trip info. But they are not a patch on the Seltos for its absolutely benchmark inducing interior.
The prices for the Kia Seltos start at ₹ 9.69 lakh for the base petrol variant and go up to ₹ 15.99 lakh for the top-spec 1.4-litre turbo petrol with DCT. Both the GDI DCT and 1.5 diesel auto are missing the fully loaded plus variant - so expect higher prices on those when they are launched by the month-end. The Hector's petrol range starts from ₹ 12.18 lakh and goes up to ₹ 16.78 lakh. The base variant of the petrol models of the Seltos and the Hector have a difference of almost ₹ 2.5 lakh. Variant to variant, the Seltos seems to be priced much more competitively than the Hector, though I admit that the latter is a bigger car. The base variants of the Seltos are in fact priced lower than those of the Hyundai Creta, but only just. The Kicks manages to undercut all of them though and so scores on value - with prices starting at ₹ 9.55 lakh and going up to ₹ 13.69 lakh.
|Kia Seltos||₹ 9.69 lakh - ₹ 15.99 lakh||₹ 9.99 lakh - ₹ 15.99 lakh|
|Hyundai Creta||₹ 10 lakh - ₹ 14.5 lakh||₹ 10 lakh - ₹ 15.65 lakh|
|MG Hector||₹ 12.18 lakh - ₹ 16.78 lakh||₹ 13.18 lakh - ₹ 16.88 lakh|
|Nissan Kicks||₹ 9.55 lakh - ₹ 10.95 lakh||₹ 9.89 lakh - ₹ 13.69 lakh|
The Creta gets a warranty of 3 years unlimited kilometres while the Kicks gets a warranty of 2 years, 50,000 kilometres and can be bought with an extended warranty of 5 years one lakh kilometres. The Seltos gets a warranty of 3 years and unlimited kilometres, while the Hector gets the best warranty package of 5 years and unlimited kilometres. It also gets a 3-60 buy back package. The 3-60 program assures a buyback value of 60 per cent of the Hector's ex-showroom price after three years of purchase. This comes at a cost, of course, and is in combination with two types of maintenance packages on offer with both petrol and diesel versions of the SUV. Taking the price and warranty into consideration, the Kia Seltos seems to have the best overall value.
Over the past decade in India the compact SUV has really come into its own, and this is a hugely popular segment. The car that you can say started it all was of course the Renault Duster, but that was many years ago. But one that's taken this segment into orbit is undoubtedly the Hyundai Creta. Now when this car first came in, I was the one who said it is overpriced, but guess what? Everybody loves it and it's created that benchmark, and also established the price point a consumer is willing to pay for an SUV of this class. So many rivals came right after the Creta did, and went after its success. Yet it managed to hold on to its top spot. But has that benchmark moved? Each of these cars you see here, have done something individually important or different; each one has its own USP - performance or rideability or comfort or technology. And that is just it - the car that manages to bring all of those together without creating any feeling of compromise on any is the Kia Seltos. As is evident - it ether aces each of the parameters we have analysed or is a close second. So I suppose you and I knew the answer even before we started this review. The Seltos sets new benchmarks that will certainly mean all the competition from here on is only going to have to get better. Yes I am hinting at the next gen Hyundai Creta for starters! So the Kia Seltos wins handsomely, wins easily and wins comprehensively in this compact SUV showdown.