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The best compact SUV in India

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

This is probably the best time to buy a car. The sheer number of choices in the SUV space beggars belief, but rather strangely the segment seems to be ruled by just one car — and that is the Hyundai Creta.

Hyundai struck gold when it launched the Creta and since day one it has completely dominated sales in this class of cars. Now, competition has arisen in the form of the Kia Seltos. So, has the Creta has finally met its match in the Seltos? Or is it too early to write off the Hyundai? Here, we compare the major players, including the new Nissan Kicks, in the compact SUV segment.


Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

Looks

Unlike the Hector or the Harrier, which rely on size for their full visual effect, these three here are more lithe and better suited to the urban jungle. They are just the right size, at above 4m, and yet are not cumbersome to drive around in.

The Kicks is actually the longest, tallest and widest, with the Seltos and Creta not far behind. The Kicks has the more rugged stance and has the biggest ground clearance, and its voluptuous styling also commands attention. No doubt about it: the Kicks is a very good looking car.

The Seltos is more upright and boxier, but is replete with some fantastic detailing. It all starts with the front, with that unique Kia tiger nose grille, and the sharply cut lines that give it a sporty look. The GT line trim (not seen here) looks even better.

The Creta is the most restrained of the three and its success means that there are about a million of them on our roads, thus the novelty of the car has somewhat worn off now.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

Interior and space

This is a tricky segment as, since the customer is upgrading from a sedan/compact SUV, the expectations of space are sky high. Here is where the Kia scores over its rivals. Suffice to say the interior of the Seltos looks and feels like it belongs in a Rs 30-lakh car. The superbly finished steering wheel, dashboard to even the door pads along with the seats — all exude a sense of quality as there are no bad bits. Even the design looks good. The massive 10.25-inch touchscreen joined with the dials also is done well. No complaints here.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

Nissan Kicks is an old school design with a more rugged SUV vibe. The materials on the dash and the steering wheel are a nice touch, however the lower half of the dash could have been better. We like the leather seats and there is a distinct rugged feel here.

Despite being around for a while, the Creta’s interiors do not betray its age. It is a simple, yet well thought out, cabin with practicality and ease of use as its forte. The materials are of good quality; less premium looking but more hard wearing. The ethos at work here seems to be ‘good and simple’.

Despite the Kicks being the biggest, that roominess is not transferred inside as it feels a bit cramped for three at the back. Space at the front is very good though and the seats are comfortable, but storage could have been better.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

The Creta has a well thought out cabin and the space at the rear is also good, though the high window line at the rear robs it of the feeling of spaciousness. That said, the Creta has a very practical cabin and, for being chauffeur-driven, it’s the best choice.

The Seltos also has an airy cabin with the best practicality amongst all three and also the seats are very comfortable. The Seltos at the rear has marginally more legroom and headroom than both the Creta and Kicks, with only a bit of thigh support lacking in comparison to the Creta.

Kia Seltos heads-up display

Features

The Creta changed the game years ago and the recent face-lift brought in many features that were segment firsts like, such as wireless charging, a sunroof and a powered driver’s seat. But the Seltos takes this many notches higher and wins this segment rather easily. The Kicks lacks some features, but has a handy 360 degree camera and the usual touchscreen and connectivity, which the other two also have.

Creta smart band key

The Seltos has a huge features list. A heads-up-display, mood lighting, an 8-speaker Bose audio, a landscape touchscreen with split views, UVO connect with 37 features and an e-SIM, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring system and much more.

Nissan Kicks camera

You can access many functions of the Seltos via a smartphone App. The Creta scores with its wearable smart key. But the Seltos with its display, usability and even sound quality, is undoubtedly the leader here.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

Driving

These are SUVs targeted towards on-road driving, thus refinement, ease of use and comfort are as important as performance, while off-road ability is not an important criteria. The Seltos offers you by far the most choice in the Indian market today with no less than three types of automatic gearboxes. It offers a CVT, DCT and a torque converter along with the standard manual. The Seltos gets a pair of 1.5l diesel and petrol’s while there is also a 1.4l turbo petrol on offer. Crucially all are BS6 compliant which the others aren’t.

The Creta offers a 1.4l and 1.6l diesel and also a 1.6l petrol. Alongside a manual, there is also a torque converter auto on both the diesel and petrol 1.6s. The Kicks has a 1.5l diesel and petrol with only a manual gearbox on offer.

Creta

In terms of diesels, the Seltos has the most refined unit here with remarkable sound insulation. The Creta comes second followed by the Kicks. In the city both the Seltos and Creta are easy to drive with the Kicks having heavier controls including the clutch. The Creta has the lightest steering here but more power over the Seltos diesel means that it feels quicker, even though the automatic Seltos feels smoother. The Kicks diesel has got good grunt too, but is not as agile as the other two.

Among the petrol variants, the Seltos is the one that impresses the most as the 1.4 DCT is a superb unit in terms of performance and feel. The DCT is also responsive while the Creta, though smooth, lacks punch and the same can be said for the Kicks.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

In terms of ride and handling, the Seltos has the heavier steering at higher speeds and also the best set-up. It also feels the most stable though the Creta and Kicks are not far behind. In the ride quality stakes the Kicks has the better ride though and feels more rugged with being better off-road.

The Seltos in diesel is the most efficient (12-14 kmpl) followed by the Creta and Kicks. The 1.4 DCT in the Seltos drinks a bit more but driven sedately you will get decent figures. The Creta has the most efficient petrol. That said, on paper the Seltos 1.5l petrol is claimed to be the most efficient, but we have not driven it yet.

Kia Seltos vs Hyundai Creta vs Nissan Kicks

Verdict

The Seltos range starts from Rs 9.7 to Rs 17 lakh while the Creta starts from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15.7 lakh. The Kicks starts from Rs 9.5 lakh and goes till Rs 13.7 lakh.

The Kicks is a hugely underrated SUV and makes sense for those who want off-road ability or venture out frequently where its ruggedness would come in handy, but here the lack of features or the polish is shown up.

The Creta and Seltos are locked in a fierce battle here. The Creta maintains its strong points of being an all-rounder SUV and for many the Creta brand would be strong enough. Even after so many years the Creta still gives the Seltos a tough fight.

However, the Seltos takes the same successful formula of the Creta and stretches it further. It just does well in all the areas with exceptional quality and a long features list, along with the most engine options. It’s polished driving experience means that the Seltos feels more like a Rs 25-30 lakh car. That pretty much says it all.