Kia announced their rebranding with a new logo and brand slogan - movement that inspires - in India yesterday. As part of its new strategy, the carmaker will soon launch updated versions of the Seltos and Sonet in the first week of May 2021. Kia also announced that they will be entering a new segment in India by early 2022. Given that the company will be focusing solely on SUVs and MPVs for the Indian market, it could be either of the two. At first, it was thought to be a Mahindra Marazzo-rivalling mid-size MPV. However, there's greater possibility for this upcoming model to be an SUV and a seven-seater one in particular.
Three-row versions of compact and mid-size SUVs are the latest trend in the Indian automotive market. We thus saw the Hyundai Alcazar being born out of the Creta, the Tata Safari being born out of the Harrier and the MG Hector Plus being born out of the Hector. Among all SUVs in this segment and price range, it is only the Kia Seltos that hasn't yet received the three-row treatment. This is particularly surprising given the entire competition has moved on the three-row segment. More importantly, Hyundai has already adapted the Creta platform for the three-row Alcazar, and so a 7-seater version of the Seltos should really be in the making.
Kia is closely watching this space and is aware that there has been a lot of interest in the three-row SUV segment. As a result, Kia is actually evaluating this segment which is gaining prominence in India by the day. A previously spied test mule of a seven-seater Kia model was originally thought to be an MPV. However, on closer evaluation, it appears that this could actually be stretched version of the Kia Seltos. Look closely at this test mule above and you will notice that the raked A-pillars, flat bonnet and the front doors are actually very quite similar to that of the Seltos. The roof, however, is taller to make way for greater headroom for the third row of seats.
The spy images also reveal that this test mule has longer rear doors than the Seltos. The upcoming SUV will mostly certainly be underpinned by the same platform as the Hyundai Alcazar. It is essentially a stretched version of the platform used by the Seltos. The rear end of the test mule, as seen in these images, is completely wrapped in camouflage. This is where we expect the bulk of changes to be concentrated with a longer rear overhang, distinct rear quarter glass area and a more upright and redesigned tail gate. The seven-seater version of the Seltos could also boast of a new grille and front bumper design along with new alloy wheels.
Under the hood, the seven-seater Kia Seltos will likely borrow its engine options from the Hyundai Alcazar. That means it will be powered by a 159PS 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 115PS 1.5-litre diesel engine. Although Hyundai offers a 6-speed manual and 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox with the Alcazar, Kia could different transmission options to create some differentiation. Just like the Alcazar, the three-row version of the Seltos will likely be offered in both 6- and 7-seater configurations. We expect the upcoming 7-seater SUV to command a premium of around INR 1 lakh over the Seltos when it is launched in early 2022 in India. That said, the company still hasn't announced anything officially and we will have to wait to see what's really in store for the future.