Seltos sets the scene

Seltos sets the scene

Kia PHL updates crossover model, announces rollout of electrified vehicles in 2024

By Dylan Afuang

IT MAY have been introduced just weeks ago, but the reskinned and retooled Seltos already represents Kia Philippines’ plans for next year.

Led by the Ayala Corp.’s automotive division, the local arm of the South Korean car maker in 2024 intends to deviate further from the public’s perception that the brand centers only on affordable products.

Instead, Kia Philippines embarks to capture an aspirational appeal through various marketing initiatives and offerings — its network of dealerships adopting a new corporate identity, while providing upscale customer experiences along with its lineup of stylish and modern vehicles.

Belonging to the latter category is this updated compact crossover — the first of five new cars which include Kia’s electrified vehicles and the battery-electric EV5 that the company plans to introduce by 2024.

If Kia’s goal is realized, the Seltos and its stablemates that follow should immensely resonate with buyers’ hearts and budgets in equal measure.

The brand’s aspirations and plans were announced by AC Motors Automobile Group President Antonio “Toti” Zara III, in a gathering that unveiled the new Seltos to the media and representatives of local Kia dealerships. Kia Philippines Chief Operating Officer Brian Buendia and AC Motors Chief Executive Officer Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala also graced the occasion.

“Loaded with standout style, latest technology, advanced driver assistance systems, and enthusiastic performance, the Seltos is in a league of its own,” Mr. Buendia boasted of the updated crossover that was first introduced locally in 2020.

Three versions of the Seltos are now on sale, with the range led by the 1.4 Turbo SX (P1.688 million), followed by the 1.5 EX (P1.288 million), and the 1.5 LX (P1.198 million).

Styling tweaks applied to the crossover include a reshaped grille and headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels featuring split-spoke alloys. The most distinctive change can be found at the rear end, where separate taillight assemblies on the previous model are replaced by a rear light bar that spans the entire width of the car’s rear.

The SX model sports a 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engine, dishing out 140hp and 242Nm of torque combined with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels — propelling the car from zero to 100kph in a quoted 9.7 seconds.

LX and EX trims, meanwhile, feature a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter gas mill, with 115hp and 144Nm of torque and is mated to an intelligent variable transmission (IVT).

The feature set of the Seltos is significantly improved inside. For example, the SX gets a wireless device charger, ambient interior lighting, a panoramic sunroof, and a full panoramic display. Six SRS air bags, Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, and Parking Distance Warning are features of the top-tier SX model.

But Kia Philippines’ upmarket realignment doesn’t stop with the Seltos, as Mr. Zara expressed.

“(The year) 2024 will be an exciting year,” the executive continued. “We are coming in with four new models. (A number of these models) will come either as full-electric vehicles or hybrid-electric vehicles.”

As Mr. Zara confirmed only the launch of the EV5, he said, “It will be consistent with the Ayala Corp.’s strategy of moving the industry towards electrified mobility, as (it builds) an EV ecosystem.”

According to Mr. Zara, the Philippine car industry by 2024 anticipates surpassing the record 473,943 units achieved in 2017. About 14,000 of these, or three percent of industry sales overall, are predicted to be electrified. AC Motors — which also handles Chinese EV manufacturer BYD here — surely wants to contribute significantly to those lofty figures.

Once it arrives, the EV5 compact SUV will be retailed alongside the EV6 in the local Kia lineup. No details on the EV5 for the Philippine market were divulged, but in the Chinese market, the vehicle is quoted to feature 64- and 88-kWh battery packs with the latter achieving a range of 720km per charge, as well as regenerative braking functionality.