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Kia Seltos vs MG Hector Petrol Automatic: Comparison Review


With their near-identical output figures and price, we won’t blame you if you’re finding it hard to decide between the petrol DCT automatic versions of the MG Hector and the Kia Seltos. That’s where we come in.

 

When we say the MG Hector and the Kia Seltos have a lot in common, we do mean a lot. For instance, they both come from the same side of the earth, mark the inception of their respective brands in India, fall in the same price bracket and have sparked a lot of interest among car buyers. 

The similarities don't end there: You see, the Seltos and Hector also come with a turbocharged petrol+DCT gearbox with near-identical output figures and, unsurprisingly, they are priced closely. How closely? Close enough to make up with a new set of tyres, or half a set to be precise.

But all these similarities are actually a facade, because spending some quality time with both SUVs brought us to the conclusion that they are in fact poles apart. Sounds contradictory, yes, but hear us out. 

Impressing The Neighbours 

The biggest difference between the Seltos and Hector is in their looks. If presence and size is what you seek, the Hector impresses in dollops. It is 340mm longer, 35mm wider and 115mm taller than the Seltos. While the Hector wins you over with size, the Seltos takes a different approach, focusing on attention to detail. The Kia impresses with its sharp design elements and its overall proportionate design. Even though the Hector’s got size on its side it feels too bulky and busy, especially at the rear. Both SUVs have religiously used chrome over them and to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either of them when it comes to grabbing eyeballs. 

Looks done, let’s get the numbers out of the way: 

  Kia Seltos MG Hector
Engine 1.4-litre turbocharged (BS6) 1.5-litre turbocharged
Gearbox 7-speed DCT 6-speed DCT
Power 140PS at 6000 rpm 143PS at 5000 rpm
Torque 242Nm at 1500-3200 250Nm at 1600-3600rpm
0-100kmph 9.51 Seconds 13.79 seconds
City efficiency (Tested) 11.42kmpl 8.61kmpl
Highway efficiency (Tested) 17.33kmpl 12.25kmpl

The engine specifications, output figures, and even the rpm when the figures are delivered looks more or less similar. The Seltos 1.4-litre T-GDI unit produces 140PS and 242Nm while the Hector's 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine puts out 143PS and 250Nm. Time to see how they fare out in the real world.

Inside The Concrete Jungle

Let’s face it, neither the Seltos nor the Hector are hardcore SUVs with off-road credentials. Rather, they are front-wheel-driven urban SUVs, and this is where they’ll spend most of their lives.

Let’s start with the Kia. Being the smaller SUV it feels more at home in the city, and the potent engine and gearbox helps. The Seltos is responsive off the line, with the 7-speed DCT doing its thing, shifting up the cogs effortlessly. Even when you drive sedately, the Seltos responds well, with the gearbox riding the torque most of time and downshifting only if it’s necessary. As expected from a dual-clutch transmission, the gearbox is both quick-shifting and smooth. That said, the shifts are not VW’s DSG quick but it is still up there when it comes to shifting speeds. 

The Hector’s DCT gearbox feels lazy in comparison. Within city limits and stop and go traffic its throttle response feels lethargic, taking its own sweet time to get going. The gearbox also feels confused at times, sticking on to the same gear whereas it actually needed a downshift to get going. One more thing we encountered while driving in stop-go traffic is that the Hector doesn't like aggressive throttle inputs. The SUV does nothing much for a couple of seconds and then takes off all of a sudden, which makes city driving tricky.

Outside The Concrete Jungle

Alright, fine, these SUVs will be mostly confined to urban sprawls — but what about weekends and the roadtrips that follow? 

Out on the open roads, the differences between the SUVs become more overt. Both their engines are refined as such but the Hector’s 1.5-litre unit feels a bit gruff towards the upper end of the rev range. The 1.4-litre T-GDI in the Seltos actually feels a bit sporty and revs cleanly all the way to its 6500rpm redline. Go hard on the throttle, the Seltos pulls with enthusiasm and never lets you down when you want to close a gap. What also helps the Seltos’ case are the different drive modes, which actually makes a difference. Eco dulls the throttle by a fair bit and feels adequate for daily runs, Normal is perfect for highway runs, while Sport is for when you want to have a good laugh. There are also three off-road modes on offer - Mud, Snow/Wet and Sand - which works along with the traction control system to help you in mild sticky situations.

Like in the city, the MG doesn’t like to be hurried out on the highway. We were let down by the Hector multiple times when we had to make a quick overtake. The gearbox pauses for a while and your window might have long gone when it decides to get going. It robs your confidence most of the time and while there is a manual tiptronic option, thanks to the not-so-fast shift speeds, it doesn't help much. Both the Hector and the Seltos also miss out on paddle shifters. It also comes as no surprise that the Seltos is the faster car to the ton by a considerable margin of around 4 seconds.

Being the smaller SUV we were expecting the Kia to be more frugal, but this big of a margin came as a surprise. The Seltos returns almost 3 kmpl more in the city and thanks to the extra cog in its gearbox, it also returned a substantial 5 kmpl over the MG out on the highway. 

All of a sudden, they don't seem very similar, right? Wait, there’s even more. 

Relationship With The Tarmac

When you’re shelling out close to Rs 20 lakh on an SUV it’s gotta spoil you, right?

This is where the Hector gains ground over the Seltos. In the Kia, you are always reminded of the road surface no matter what speeds you are doing. Expansion joints and sharp imperfections filter in more and there’s also the suspension thud that creeps in every now and then. Don’t get us wrong, the ride is actually good: it only feels a bit hard-edged when you factor in the Hector’s ride quality. The Hector rides more like a ladder on frame SUV, filtering out the potholes, imperfections and what else the Indian roads have to offer. Overall, it has the better ride quality but the story isn’t the same when both the SUVs start gaining some speed.

Due to the underlying softness in the Hector’s suspension setup, it pitches more and takes some time to settle in. This is amplified out on the highway where it bobs and wafts around a fair bit. The Seltos, rides flatter and feels better, at least on good roads.The Hector’s softness is not a deal-breaker in any way and is more like a slight (read: miniscule) hiccup in an otherwise good-riding SUV.

When it comes to handling, there is no competition whatsoever, with the Seltos outclassing the Hector with ease. It drives more like a raised hatchback than an SUV with good body control. The steering feels direct, with the SUV exhibiting commendable grip levels. The Hector’s steering feels so lifeless that you won't be able to tell what the front wheels are up to. The Hector rolls through corners but not to the point where it feels unnerving. 

The Seltos also scores in the braking department with numbers to back it up. Pedal feel, initial bite and overall confidence levels all goes to the Seltos. 

  Kia Seltos MG Hector
100-0kmph 40.93m 45.2m
80-0kmph 25.51m 28.52m


Cabin Experience

The attention to detail that has gone into the Seltos’ cabin is really impressive. The way the switches on the steering wheel feel (even the flat-bottom steering looks and feels premium), the way the flaps for the charging ports sway open and the crisp instrument cluster with dedicated themes for the drive modes lend it that premium vibe. 

Initial impressions from the Hector’s cabin are positive. There’s a premium feel to the cabin but once you start to spend some time, you’ll begin to notice minor flaws. An example is the lower dashboard area and the rear aircon vents and controls which have harder plastics than the rest of the cabin. But overall, the touch points are all well finished, raising the overall quality quotient. 

With its low seating, finding a perfect driving position in the Seltos is easy. In the Hector the steering wheel is set high even in the lowest setting, forcing you to increase the seat height as a workaround. The aircon controls integrated into the touchscreen of the Hector also doesn't help from an ergonomic point of view. You have to take your eyes off the road to control the aircon settings or use the voice command. Whereas in the Seltos, you have dedicated switches and rotary knobs for the aircon settings, making your life easier. 

If space is what you’re looking for, the MG is sure to impress. Like on the outside, it is a bigger SUV inside as well. But the Hector’s front and rear seats aren’t as comfortable and supportive as the Kia’s. Underthigh support is also an area where the Seltos edges ahead. The Hector wins back with a flat rear floor hump where it can also seat three people with ease, unlike the Seltos. Apart from being the better five-seater, the Hector also sports the bigger boot at 587 litres (154L more than the Seltos), making it the better choice for weekend getaways. 

Features -- Hits and Misses

(For a more detailed insight on the features, we’ve already done a real-world hands-on comparison of the Seltos and the Hector, which you can find here)

Looking at the brochures of the Seltos and Hector will surely leave you confused. Both the SUVs are crammed with features and although there are a lot of common features, it is the Seltos which comes across as the more refined package. 

Some of the unique standout features in the Seltos are the wireless charging, ventilated front seats, inbuilt air purifier, blinds for the rear passengers and the heads-up display. The Seltos with the inclusion of a panoramic sunroof and an electric tailgate would’ve been perfect. Like literally perfect. And in the Hector, you get the massive dual-pane sunroof, electric tailgate and the powered driver and front passenger seats.

                                                                          Unique Features
 Kia Seltos MG Hector
Android Auto, Apple CarPlay Cornering front fog lamps
8-inch heads up display Gaana, Accuweather
LED sound mood lights Dual pane panoramic sunroof
Auto IRVM 4 Way power adjustable co-driver seat
UV cut glass front and sides Powered tailgate
Air purifier, perfume diffuser All windows down by remote key
Wireless charger  
Ventilated front seats  

Once you start spending some time with both the SUVs you will find that the Seltos is the one with features you’ll appreciate more over the long run. Case in point the Hector’s massive 10.4-inch infotainment, which could’ve been a lot better --  the interface is laggy and the overall experience is dulled by mediocre graphics and a counterintuitive menu. Meanwhile, the Seltos’ 10.25-inch screen feels top notch, with a horizontal layout that makes it easier to use on the move. Even the graphics feels premium and the touch response is snappy.

So, What Say? 

If you’re reading this, you must have an idea by now of how different the Seltos and Hector are when you look beyond the brochure. If you prefer to drive or, enjoy driving as such, the Seltos is definitely the pick here. Moreover, it has all the right features, ticks all the right boxes, feels well built, and is the more practical choice both inside the city and out.Thanks to all of this and its sorted engine and gearbox, we honestly can’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t recommend one.   

Or wait, we got one. Say you want a BIG SUV with enough space and good ride quality, or you want to be chauffeured around? Then you definitely should be taking a second look at the Hector turbo petrol hybrid and its 6-speed manual gearbox. It’s everything we liked about the Hector and not the one thing that we didn't: that lacklustre 6-speed DCT gearbox. The one thing that bottlenecks the otherwise good turbocharged petrol engine. 

So yes, with the myriad advantages it offers over the Hector, the Seltos is the clear choice when it comes to a petrol automatic SUV.

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