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Kia Seltos vs MG Hector: Petrol-auto Comparison Review

Published On Dec 20, 2019 By Dhruv for Kia Seltos

Both are new offerings. Both offer petrol-automatics. Both pack fancy features. But which one suits your needs better?

Kia is new to India, and so is MG. The Seltos is Kia’s first offering for India, so is the Hector for MG. They both pack connected car features and are loaded to the roof with technology. They are also priced closely together. But they both go about doing their jobs as an ‘SUV’ in different ways. 

In our first video comparison of these two, we asked you to decide the powertrain you’d want to see compared. Hence, on popular demand, both cars in the picture are running their turbo-petrol engines along with a DCT transmission. The selection makes sense too, as these SUVs will predominantly be used for city driving. And because we have already compared the features, space, comfort and their value for money aspect in our last comparison, this one will focus primarily on how different the two are to drive in the urban setting.

So which of these two new SUVs on the block will be a better fit for your everyday needs?

Cars Tested

Kia Seltos 

  • Variant: GTX+ DCT

  • Price: Rs 16.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

MG Hector

  • Variant: Sharp AT

  • Price: Rs 17.18 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

Engine and performance

Engine Characteristics

Kia Seltos

MG Hector

Displacement

1353cc

1451cc

Max Power

140PS @ 6000rpm

143PS @ 5000rpm

Peak Torque

242Nm @ 1500-3200rpm

250Nm @ 1600-3600rpm

Transmission

7-speed DCT 

6-Speed DCT

Emissions

BS6

BS4

As is evident from the table above, both SUVs have similar engines specifications. But that is where the similarities end. Let's start with the Kia. 

The Seltos feels effortless to drive in the city. The engine feels refined and you don't have to go hard on the throttle pedal to get a move on. Initial inputs get you going smoothly and this makes the Seltos an easy drive in bumper to bumper traffic. Even when pushed for quick overtakes, the engine has plenty of power and wont feel breathless, allowing for lesser gear shifts. You will not only be impressed by this engine’s ability to negotiate changes in pace inside the city, but its fuel efficiency as well. In our tests, the Seltos returned a healthy 11.42kmpl, which is almost 3kmpl more than what the Hector returned in a similar environment.

The Hector’s engine, too, offers good bottom-end torque, but due to its bigger size, it is less apparent. However, where it differs from the Seltos is when darting forward to make a quick gap or overtake. In such a situation, you will find that the weight of the Hector makes it feel a bit sluggish compared to the Seltos and you will end up planning more for such manoeuvres in the Hector than you would in the Seltos. 

Out on the highway, the Seltos’ engine will easily cruise at triple digit speeds and still have plenty left in reserve. This means you can overtake  a car, or even a line of cars, quite easily with a simple dab on the throttle. The Hector’s engine allows it to cruise at triple digit speeds without any fuss but push for the redline and you it run out of breath. Again, overtaking in the Hector will have to be planned, although it will make your life easier if are carrying enough momentum.

You will feel cocooned inside the cabin of the Seltos out on the highway. There are no vibrations that can be felt when pushing this engine and engine noise only starts to creep into the cabin when the needle of the tacho crosses the halfway mark. Engine noise in the Hector is again well controlled at lower RPMs and you will only start to hear it once you push the needle north of 3000rpm. Overall, the Seltos’ cabin feels better insulated in terms of engine noise, but the gap between the two isn’t all that big.

In the Seltos, you will have to stop less frequently for fuel as it can do more than 17km to the litre on the highway. In contrast, we only managed to do just over 12km to the litre in the Hector in a similar situation. 

The party piece of the Kia Seltos, however, is its transmission. It’s one of the best, if not the best DCTs in this segment. While driving around in the city, it ensures you always have the right gear. You can trudge along smoothly in heavy traffic and a simple dab of the throttle can get you into gaps. The transmission is even quick to understand your throttle changes and before you know it, you are already in the right gear for overtakes or for cruising. On the highway, it is quick to shuffle up gears if you are gentle with the throttle. However, its urgent nature will show itself here too, if you start getting eager with your right foot.

The transmission in the Hector is a stark contrast to the one in the Seltos. Being gentle with the throttle ensures that the transmission functions smoothly. But as soon as you want to get a quick move on, the transmission struggles to pick the right gear. So much so that it causes a massive delay in power delivery, close to 3 seconds! This leaves you out of gaps and overtaking opportunities. Overall, you are left with your foot kissing the floor and no response from the Hector. The one and possibly only positive aspect about this transmission is that the upshifts are smooth (more than the Seltos) and can hardly be felt.

Then there are the driving modes of the Seltos. It gets Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco mode dulls the throttle response just a little bit. The gearbox logic is also more relaxed, with the transmission shifting gears a tad bit after the throttle input. However, that doesn’t mean you are left wanting for more power. The shifts too still happen quickly, making Eco mode perfect for city driving. Normal mode feels relaxed and is best suited for the highways and Sport mode is best left for some spirited driving as it sharpens the responses up quite a bit. Kia has thrown in terrain response modes here as well which alter the engine response and traction control settings. You get Mud, Sand and Snow modes for dealing with such conditions.

The Hector doesn’t get any drive or traction modes. However, you do get a sports mode for the transmission but it fails to make a significant difference in pace and mostly just makes the engine rev higher, making it noisier.

Pictured: Kia Seltos

To sum it up, the Seltos’s engine is an excellent unit that feels at home both in the city and on the highway. It doesn’t need the driving modes per se, but their presence helps customise the drive for different moods. Things get even better with the DCT as it shifts quickly and precisely. The Hector has a decent engine whose only real struggle is that it runs out of breath close to the red line. However, this flaw is almost never highlighted (until you engage the sports mode on the transmission) because of the gearbox. It becomes the one big annoyance when you are driving the Hector in the city or on the highway. Then comes the fuel efficiency, which steeply tilts the scales in favour of the Seltos. 

Ride and handling

Pottering around town, the Seltos will work like a charm over good roads. However, hit a patch of tiled roads or a broken section of tarmac and the ride starts to become noisy. Go a little faster and then the surface starts to be felt inside the cabin. Broken surfaces will get you tossed around if the driver is not being careful. Sharp potholes will make sure that a big bad thud is heard and felt inside the cabin. But the Seltos offers a really good ride quality on well paved tarmac, be it the city or highway

On the other hand, the Hector really comes into its own when you drive it over the rough stuff. At city speeds, it simply manages to iron out all the rough bumps on the road. The ride is quite silent as well, so much so that the passengers will hardly know the surface underneath. If you live in an area with broken roads or rough patches, the Hector is hands down the better and more comfortable car. And even if your daily commute involves a few broken sections, you’d want to be in the Hector. On the highway, the Hector continues to impress as it filters out the rumble strips and other smaller imperfections with ease. It does start to feel a bit wallowy at higher speeds but it is not something that takes anything away from the experience.

While the Hector offers better ride quality, it's the Seltos that feels great around the corners. This is because it stays flatter than the Hector and the steering too feels direct and more connected to the wheels. The Hector isn’t unnerving, but does exhibit a lot more body roll than the Seltos. If you are a keen driver, it's clear that you’d want to be in the Seltos. 

The Hector is the better SUV when navigating broken roads, or no roads for that matter. The Seltos is the better SUV when you are predominantly driving over good roads. The difference is so stark that it could easily sway the buying decision depending on your road conditions and driving habits.

Interior

Step into the driver’s seat of the Seltos and you will be left wondering if you are in an SUV at all. 

This is because you sit lower in the Seltos and the black interiors of the GT Line does make the cabin look sporty, but also takes away the airy feeling you get with lighter colour interiors or a bigger cabin. You will stay comfortable for longer in the Seltos and move about less from side to side as its front seats have firmer cushioning and better bolstering than those of the Hector. Step into the driver’s seat of the Hector and you are immediately greeted by a greater sense of space. It feels like a proper old-school SUV. And this is despite the cabin being done up in dark colours. So, the Hector is the better option if you are looking for an SUV with an airy cabin.

The screen of the Seltos is horizontally oriented. This means that you don't have to look far for the screen and the information is visible to you in a simple and small glance. The screen in the Hector is huge. And despite being almost the same size diagonally as the Seltos’, it covers a much larger area. But because of its orientation, the driver does have to take their eyes off the road for information.

Furthermore, there is a HUD (head-up display) in the Seltos which shows you the speed and navigation directions without having to even move your head by an inch. Kia has also thrown in cool stuff like ventilated front seats, which are a godsend in Indian summers, a wireless charger and a neatly integrated display in the instrument cluster for the 360 degree camera. The Seltos’ cabin is more ergonomically laid out than the Hector. For example, the Hector has a bigger screen but the icons on it are quite small to be honest. You end up focusing your attention on the screen to operate it, which will take your attention off the road ahead. Then there is the switch gear on the steering wheel. You will find it harder to reach the volume and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel of the Hector as they are positioned towards the inside. Where as in the Seltos, they are on the outside and closer to your thumbs. The Hector does wow you with power-adjustable front passenger seats, voice commands for the sunroof and driver’s window, a panoramic sunroof and a 360 degree camera. However, the quality of the Hector’s 360 degree camera leaves a lot to be desired and its other features, which are unique to it, aren’t something you will appreciate in everyday driving.

Pictured: Kia Seltos

Rear seats

Move to the rear seats and it is the Seltos that will keep you more comfortable on longer journeys with its firmer seats and better underthigh support. You even get manual sun blinds for the windows in the rear of the Kia SUV. The Seltos has a lot more space underneath the front seats as well where the rear passengers can tuck in their feet. 

Step into the rear seats of the Hector and you will find there is no transmission tunnel and shoulder room is generous, meaning three people at the back can sit more comfortably than they would in the Seltos. This is because the Seltos has less lateral room than the Hector and also has a transmission tunnel running down its centre. The panoramic sunroof that extends all the way to where the rear passengers sit make the second row of the Hector’s cabin feel  a lot more spacious than that of the Seltos. 

Verdict

Now comes the moment when you have to make a choice. A choice you will have to live with, let’s say, for the next four to five years.

The Seltos is an incredible package that has a lot to offer. You will find yourself moving forward with relative ease as the engine and gearbox work in perfect sync to offer a great driving experience. For an everyday petrol SUV, it’s surprisingly efficient as well. Kia has packed in features that will prove to be useful in day to day driving and the cabin of the Seltos is more ergonomically laid out as well. The one problem that living with the Seltos will pose is its ride quality over bad roads. The Seltos makes most sense if the roads in your surroundings are well paved, you want an SUV that can seat four people comfortably on long journeys and is fun to drive as well.

The Hector is more like a traditional SUV. It is imposing and offers excellent space inside the cabin, which is further accentuated by the huge panoramic sunroof. The Hector’s suspension takes on bad roads with relative ease. It can seat three at the rear quite easily. It’s comfortable and will keep everyone smiling during your annual holiday with the family.

However, its powertrain requires a lot more work from the driver to get going or execute changes in pace. The interior is also not very ergonomically laid out and you will find that the Hector’s unique features aren’t something you will appreciate in your daily driving. And its fuel efficiency will definitely be a bother if you drive around a fair bit.

If we had to pick between these two solely based on their driveability, our pick would be the Kia Seltos.

Kia Seltos

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
HTE D (Diesel)Rs. 10.34 Lakh*
HTK D (Diesel)Rs. 11.54 Lakh*
HTK Plus D (Diesel)Rs. 12.54 Lakh*
HTK Plus AT D (Diesel)Rs. 13.54 Lakh*
HTX D (Diesel)Rs. 14.14 Lakh*
HTX Plus D (Diesel)Rs. 15.34 Lakh*
HTX Plus AT D (Diesel)Rs. 16.34 Lakh*
GTX Plus AT D (Diesel)Rs. 17.34 Lakh*
HTE G (Petrol)Rs. 9.89 Lakh*
HTK G (Petrol)Rs. 10.29 Lakh*
HTK Plus G (Petrol)Rs. 11.49 Lakh*
HTX G (Petrol)Rs. 13.09 Lakh*
GTK (Petrol)Rs. 13.79 Lakh*
HTX IVT G (Petrol)Rs. 14.09 Lakh*
GTX (Petrol)Rs. 15.29 Lakh*
GTX DCT (Petrol)Rs. 16.29 Lakh*
GTX Plus (Petrol)Rs. 16.29 Lakh*
GTX Plus DCT (Petrol)Rs. 17.29 Lakh*

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*Estimated Price New Delhi
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