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There has never been a time in automotive history where one particular subsection of the motorcar has dominated the market as much as now with the advent of the subcompact crossover SUV. Sitting in-between a hatchback and the slightly larger compact crossover SUV breed, this area of the market keeps adding new models all the time and this makes deciding which car to buy somewhat of a challenge.
So to ease that process and make things simpler for you, let’s take a look at two of the newest and hottest entrants within the segment (at least here in the UAE) - the all-new 2020 Kia Seltos and 2020 Hyundai Kona, and find out which one of these should you bet your precious dirhams on. For this comparo, we will be pitting the Seltos 1.6 variant with the (almost) similarly-priced Kona’s 1.6 SE trim.
Styling is one of the most important aspects when it comes to cars in this segment, and it often plays a decisive role when buyers step into the showroom. On this front, both the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona seem to play their cards right. No one will blame these two cars for looking bland or lacking in character as each can hold its own in a visual tug-of-war.
Straight away, it becomes clear that the Kia Seltos is not only a touch larger in some key dimensions but also sports a more mature (but stylish) yet muscular stance when compared to the Kona. Meanwhile, the Hyundai features a relatively softer, chic design that comes across as being more ‘out there’ in terms of its overall design language.
This is evident when you look at the Kona’s rather busy front end with its LED DRLs up top, large ‘cascading grille’ in the middle, untraditional but stylish low-mounted headlamp units and centrally-placed fog lamps. There’s also loads of black plastic cladding all over the place along with a dual-tone paint job, boisterous wheel arches and fenders, and a unique dual-light setup at the rear.
The new Seltos exhibits Kia’s signature ‘tiger nose’ grille, a svelte headlamp design, stylish front & rear bumpers, brawny-looking wheel arches, and an overall upright posture. The Seltos definitely looks more grown-up between the two cars here.
Inside, the Hyundai Kona can be had with bright & contrasting trim bits and stitching, whilst the Kia Seltos features ambient mood lighting along with some stitching and shiny trim of its own. The Seltos also gets a large single housing for its gauge cluster and infotainment display, whereas the Kona comes with a premium audio system from KRELL and sculpted steering wheel.
Considering their size, interior room is decent in both the cars, though the Seltos fairs slightly better when it comes to rear-seat headroom. Build quality and overall fit-and-finish is a non-issue as well, and the Kona’s 544-liter boot is solid, too. And while you will find several scratchy and cheap plastic bits in the cabin of both these cars, the Seltos just feels a bit more premium.
There’s no doubt that the Hyundai Kona with its turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-popper wins the performance round. Producing 175 hp and 265 Nm of torque, the Kona makes the dash to 100 km/h in less than 8 seconds, whilst the same feat sees the Kia Seltos taking several seconds longer to accomplish. The Kona is also capable of a higher top speed, being rated at 205 km/h - pretty impressive for a car in this segment.
Priced at AED 68,000, the 2020 Kia Seltos offers a great design, good cabin space, decent material quality and features. If that’s all you want, then this is a good buy. But if you don’t mind spending an extra 3,000 dirhams, then the Hyundai Kona promises better performance, more cargo room and funkier design.