Honda Elevate v/s Seltos facelift: Back-to-back test drive observations

The Kia SUV felt more refined than the Elevate, and though it is priced higher by Rs 60k seemed to be a good value for money.

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Test drove the Elevate Manual, the Elevate CVT and the Seltos HTX IVT back to back. Please pardon the length of the post, all the usual disclaimers apply and these are purely my impressions.

The distance was about 2-3 km with the manual, 4-5 with the CVT and 7-8 km with the Seltos with the same route.

First up was the Elevate manual. I Sat inside and it immediately felt better than the last time I had spent in the display vehicle – as I was able to get in easily, with the steering not fouling my legs. I found the driving seat does not slide back enough to what would have been my ideal driving position (I’m six feet tall). I would characterise it as just ok. I ended up sitting a little knees up and felt that under-thigh support was lacking.

The window line was a tad higher than what would have been ideal.

Put the car into gear and took pressure off the clutch pedal to get going, but nothing happened – this is because the clutch pedal travel is super long – reference point is my Honda City 3rd gen manual.

Finally got moving and the immediate thing which struck me was the buzzing noise – it was much higher than what I’m used to – and I drive a nearly 15-year-old car that’s done 1.3 lakh km. The buzzing sound is also a little harsh, with rough edges and not refined at all. I mentioned this to the SA who said that I should wait for the CVT as that is smoother. Going through the gears was easy enough once I factored in the long travel after about 2-3 initial gear changes. I guess the travel felt longer because it is more difficult to press the pedal when you are sitting in a knees-up position.

As soon as it was time to turn, hit the turn indicator and the lane change camera came up on the screen. It took some effort to take eyes off the road and look at it, but I guess one could get used to it since the touchscreen is relatively high.

What did strike me was that the turn indicator stalk was pretty plasticky in movement – in the sense that it felt unlubricated/undamped, and nowhere as refined as my City, which again is nearly 15 years old.

The ride itself was pretty smooth and bumps in the road were easily dealt with, though I did note some side-to-side movement which is not surprising given the high ground clearance.

The drive was fairly short and I left feeling clear that the manual was a clear no-go.

Got into the CVT immediately after getting out of the manual and made the adjustments to the seat. The seat travel had the same issue – but I do have another observation. As the dead pedal of the CVT was set higher than that of the manual, I felt that it forced my left leg into a less comfortable knee-up position. Had it been lower or not present, my leg could have been more relaxed and the thigh would have been closer to the seat.

On the move, the CVT immediately felt much smoother. There was no harsh noise as was there in the manual. At slow speeds, it felt pretty natural to drive and the rubber band effect was not apparent. Once I got to the highway I could push it and at one stage the speed did take some time to increase. Again intuitively it felt like my City gets to the higher speeds faster.

On the whole, the CVT did the job well, though the one gripe with it was that the gear lever felt very plasticky in moving from one position to another, did not have enough heft, and like the stalk, felt unlubricated or undamped. This along with the rougher feeling leatherette (as compared to the Gen 5 City) makes the Elevate feel like a cost-cutter offering, and not at all premium.

On completing the drive I sat in the car for some more time, trying to re-evaluate how comfortable the seat position was – my conclusion was that given the limited seat travel, it could be okay for short rides but over long distances, it would cause fatigue as the legs don’t get a chance to rest.

Finally, made my way to the Kia showroom and got the Seltos to drive. The route was the same as the Elevate. The first impression was more positive straight away – the seat travel was much more and the seat squab also seemed longer with my legs getting better under thigh support.

The feeling of roughness and lack of a premium touch that was there in the Elevate was not felt in the Seltos. Stalks were nicely damped and the gear lever movement also had some weight to it. The only part which felt a little lacklustre was the top of the dashboard which looked and felt scratchy.

The IVT felt pretty smooth to drive, much like the Elevate, there was no hint of noise on the getaway at low speed. I was expecting the suspension to feel a little firmer, but it felt accommodating for the most part. The side-to-side movement that I had felt in the Elevate was absent and the car felt like it stayed more flat through the turns.

Only on one stretch on the highway, while picking up speed, did the Seltos get unsettled as it went over a rough patch. This had not been felt in the Elevate.

The NA engine was fine although it seemed to take its time building up speed. On pushing it, it did become a bit noisy without being gruff, and not necessarily leading to a rapid increase in velocity. The paddle shifts seemed to help here, especially in sport mode.

Overall, the Seltos felt more refined than the Elevate, and though it is priced higher by Rs 60k, seemed to be good value for money. If you are slightly on the taller side, the Seltos will definitely feel more comfortable.

Where the Elevate could make up the gap is probably with the ADAS and perhaps the higher safety levels (to be tested), which would be useful if you do highway drives frequently.

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