– By Victoria Nelson –
I wasn’t looking forward to getting out of a European luxury vehicle and into a base model fleet car to satisfy the FAN overlords. But they insisted. ‘You need to relate to your readers’ they shouted at me via CAPITAL letters in an email. ‘Get some time behind the wheel in traffic’ they said on the phone. “Haven’t you got Bentley fleet model for me to review?”, I replied.
The car they gave me was a Kia Seltos. At first sight I thought they’d listen to my whinging and sent me the latest small BMW. It looks sharp. And since I’d been hearing the Billie Eilish song all summer while sipping bubbles at the AO, I thought it was worth a drive around the block.
Opening the door was a shock for several reasons. First, there was a key! A metal like sword that you flick out from a stylish key fob. I thought I was being Punk’d. Worst still, you need to insert the key into an actual lock to start the car! I couldn’t believe these still existed. Then I noticed the seats – some kind of fabric that wasn’t even trying to be fake leather. No climate control air conditioning. No lumber support in the seats and a manual hand brake. I wasn’t in Toorak anymore.
It got better once I noticed the Apple CarPlay. It’s amazing how this can make a huge difference to the enjoyment of a motor vehicle. Seeing the familiar menu of squares with rounded edges and my Spotify playlist.
Once I had adapted to my new surroundings I set off on an adventure. It turns out you don’t need leather or keyless entry to get from A to B. The Seltos is very enjoyable to drive. A good seating position with lots of adjustments in the steering column. You sit slightly higher than a sedan so you get a great view of the road with easy access to the all the driver controls.
Exploring the controls is when I found the greatest feature you get without having everything. The Speed Limiter. If you haven’t tried this I hope you can afford the speeding fines.
According to a Kia website, once you set the speed you want to stay below, depressing the accelerator pedal less than approximately 50%, the vehicle will not speed over the preset speed limit but maintain the vehicle speed within the speed limit. To drive over the preset speed limit you must depress hard on the accelerator pedal (more than approximately 80%) until the kick down mechanism works with a clicking noise.
After a few days I fell in love with this simple safety feature and started boring anyone that would listen. I’ve since found out its not exclusive to Kia and many manufacturers are using similar systems.
With some more research it was revealed that from 2020 all new vehicles in Europe will be required to have mandatory speed limiters fitted so drivers can’t break the law. If only they would make leather seats mandatory and outlaw those small swords masquerading as keys.