A good car from Kia as ever - but only for those looking for the quirky.
It’s a funny one, the Kia Soul, in various ways.
The first-gen car was eye-catching, which is clearly what Kia was going for. Looks are always subjective, but the new car is a bit less out-there than the original. That said, there’s still nothing quite like it on sale today.
It still has plenty of rivals in the shape of cars like the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti and Citroen C4 Cactus.
Kia has slimmed down the range for 2017 – it’s now a seven-model line-up with new trim grades. So there’s now the ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ alongside top level Sport, which we drove.
All cars get keyless entry, air conditioning, electric windows front and back and roof rails among their kits. Moving up, grades ‘2’ and ‘3’ get a 7-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, parking sensors, reversing camera and automatic air con among their bells and buttons.
Sport gets plenty – twin exhausts, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, exterior embellishments, heated seats and more. It also gets a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, but it wasn’t the greatest experience married to the automatic gearbox. It gets to 60mph in a neat 7.5 seconds, but, managing barely 35mpg on the motorway against a claimed 41, the motor, coupled to an overly revvy automatic gearbox, isn’t going to win any economy awards. And that was in ‘eco’ mode.
If you’re light-footed you can improve on that slightly in town – we just about saw 37 to the gallon.
Too many times we found ourselves flicking to semi-manual mode to try to rectify poor economy.
Thankfully there are other choices.
The 1.6 diesel is the one to go for – it makes 58mpg and can be had with a manual gearbox. The 130bhp version of the petrol, meanwhile, gets to 43mpg.
Performance of our tester felt a bit average thanks to that iffy auto, though it was quite lively in sport mode.
But the Soul handles well and the ride is comfortable, if a touch bouncy on country roads. The interior is very nicely done and feels premium, as is the way with Kia, with decent materials.
There’s also a good amount of rear legroom for what doesn't seem like a particularly big car and the boot is a nice size too.
Kia’s infotainment system is easy on the eye and easy to use, as well as incorporating useful stuff like Apple CarPlay. We’ll be honest – the Soul isn’t Kia’s best car. It’s only true selling point is to appeal to those who want to be a bit different.
- It stands out
- There's plenty of quality here.
- Lots of good kit.
We don't like:
- Avoid the automatic gearbox.
- We're not too sure what the point of it is.
- Nothing else.
Most fun: The Sport gets to 60mph in 7.5 seconds
Most sensible: The diesel gets high 50s MPG and CO2 is 127g/km.
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