With the imminent launches of the Hyundai Kona, KIA Seltos and Proton X50 the compact SUV segment is about to explode!
In a month or two, Malaysians will be even more spoilt for choice when it comes to compact crossovers. We already have the Honda HR-V, Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR in the market, but the arrival of the two Koreans and the pride of Malaysia will surely shake things up.
We're not even mentioning the Perodua D55L because there is little indication to when it will be launched, but from what we know, it will be joining us early next year if the rumours from the grapevine are accurate - so yeah, choices.
But let's forget about the rest this time around because we want to take a closer look at the Proton X50, KIA Seltos and Hyundai Kona - which one comes out top?
Without further ado, let's take a closer look at what these three cars have to offer.
Clockwise from top: Hyundai Kona, Proton X50 and Kia Seltos
Performance - Tied - Hyundai Kona/Proton X50
As much as we expected the KIA Seltos to come with one of KIA's modern turbocharged engine and 8-speed transmission, the reality is that the KIA Seltos in Malaysia will have the same powertrain from the current Cerato which is a 1.6N/A four-cylinder engine that pushes out 120hp and 151Nm of torque. It also gets the Cerato's 6-speed automatic transmission which, according to KIA, gets the crossover to 175kph top speed.
The powertrain while not the worst, definitely doesn't keep up with the other two. Although not official, the Hyundai Kona could possibly come with a 1.6L turbocharged engine as previewed at the 2018 KLIMS Motorshow. The 1.6-litre T-GDI engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is good for 169hp and 265Nm of torque.
The Proton X50 will most likely come with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Good for 175hp and 255Nm of torque, the X50's performance is similar to the Kona. Since the differences are marginal between the Hyundai and Proton, it's hard to say which will come out on top.
Clockwise from top left: Kia Seltos, Proton X50 and Hyundai Kona
Exterior - Winner - Proton X50
The KIA Seltos is boxier compared to the Proton X50 and Hyundai Kona. It is a bit more conservative in design, but simple can be a good thing. The Proton X50 is definitely the sportiest looking out of the three with its slanted rear roofline and small rear windscreen. We wouldn't be surprised if it got its inspiration from the Range Rover Evoque because if you take a quick glance at it, you could mistake it for a baby Rangie.
The Hyundai Kona's exterior design is the most left-wing out of them all with its weird bubble-like shape. However, we're still a fan of its looks, as the front end does look pretty menacing. But in terms of overall looks, we prefer the baby Rangie of course - sorry, we meant Proton X50.
Clockwise from top: Proton X50, Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos.
Interior - Winner - KIA Seltos
The interior in the X50's brother the X70 really is quite amazing, and we expect no less from the X50. Judging from the X70, the X50 will probably have that same plush interior with a premium feel, if not better. From the photos and worldwide reviews, the Hyundai Kona's interior seems nothing special as it aims for a more durable and longer-lasting theme as opposed to luxurious.
As we have said before, sometimes simple is better, but you can be a judge of that because we prefer some interior pizzaz. In our opinion, the KIA comes out on top when it comes to the interior.
From the photos above the KIA Seltos stands out to us in terms of layout and design. That black with red accents really does pop. There is an understated elegance to it.
Clockwise from top left: Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos and Proton X50
Despite its lower-tech powerplant, we expect the KIA Seltos to have a similar price to the X50 (it has been rumoured that it will start around RM85k). It was announced recently that the Hyundai Kona will have a starting price of RM115k which makes it a lot more expensive than its Korean sibling the Seltos, but then again, you are getting a bit more tech from the Kona, so you get what you pay for.
If our 'guesstimate' price for the Proton X50 is correct, then the Proton X50 will represent the best value for money. It just seems to have a better package when all things are weighed in. Then again, for those of you who fancy the road less taken, the Hyundai Kona seems like a good choice.
The KIA Seltos on the other hand has a nice cabin to be in so if that's important for you then maybe consider the Seltos. It's also a very simple car so maintenance should be hassle-free. If you're about the simple life, then it doesn't get any easier than the Seltos.
There is a car for everyone; it's just down to what your budget is and what you intend to use the vehicle for. Happy shopping!