$21,490 – $29,990
Good: Truly individual styling & great fuel economy. Urban dwellers who were thinking of buying a MINI now have another choice at a much lower price point.
Not so Good: Compared to Kia’s more restrained Cerato Small family car, you’ll still be paying more per kilo for a Soul.
Design and Engineering
Good : Arriving Down Under in April 2009 the Kia Soul has bold and distinctive looks; from the side profile it successfully achieves the design concept of ‘urban toughness’ (the blackened A-pillars help); you can choose one that comes with a dragon-like decal that covers half the bonnet and nearly all of the side panels!?
Not so good : The rear isn’t the Soul’s most attractive angle… the unusual tail-light design let it down…
Interior and Styling
Good : The concept car styling continues inside – you can select seats in funky Houndstooth pattern or the dash & door trim in bright red (or a slightly more restrained creamy white). The cube-shaped exterior translates to a roomy interior; from the outside it looks as if headroom may suffer in the rear, but luckily it gets the thumbs up from those over 6 feet. iPod compatible audio in all grades, a big glovebox that will easily swallow your odds ‘n’ ends and with the rear seats folded down this little Kia Soul can fit nearly 1000-litres of luggage inside.
Not so good : Whilst it’s roomy inside it still doesn’t have true MPV flexibility. The steering wheel lacks reach adjustment (in and out) on the entry level grade. It’s also a shame the base-grade Kia Soul lacks the body-coloured dashboard that truly livens up the interior.
Good : The Kia Soul range comes with the choice of three engines.
There is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol that produces 95kW of power and 157Nm of torque.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol manages 122kW of power and 200Nm of torque.
And rounding out the engine range is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that produces 94kW of power and 260Nm of torque.
The 1.6L Turbo Diesel’s generous torque figures means it never feels underpowered in traffic, yet provides fantastic fuel economy figures.
The 2.0-litre petrol also feels quite peppy, sinking your right foot and the 2.0-litre springs to life. Also, when driven sensibly fuel economy figures aren’t that far behind, so if every dollar counts don’t discount this engine.
Not so good : Unfortunately, the Turbo Diesel engine is significantly more expensive than the 1.6-litre petrol which has to work harder, and when matched to the auto it is by no means sporty.
Ride and Handling
Good : The chunky steering wheel feels great and firmly sprung suspension results in low body roll. You can throw it around corners and ride quality is still satisfactory. Its firm seats offer decent support over long drives. It handles better than most SUPERMINI’s
Not so good : It ain’t no Hot Hatch though, as it’ll tend to understeer when pushed (not everyone ‘pushes’ though, as we often need to remind ourselves!). The electric/hydraulic power steering isn’t bad, but when pointed straight ahead – it doesn’t provide much feedback.
Buying and Owning
Good : Over 30 customisable accessories! It feels well-built, and being a modern Kia we wouldn’t expect to hear of any rattles or bits falling off should you choose a Soul as your next car; kids love it, too. It’s damn practical and we think it would be an easy car to live with.
From September 2010 the previous three grades have been simplified down to a choice of two trims – Soul or Soul+. It’s now better value for money than before. Soul+ adds the following over the entry level Soul grade – 16-inch alloys, front fog lamps, roof rails, telescopic steering, steering wheel mounted audio controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, driver’s seat height adjustment and a windshield sunband. The diesel Soul+ also adds cruise control and a catalytic particulate filter on the automatics.
Not so good : Not for the shy or retiring types. Also, make up your mind as to what your budget is before walking into a showroom as it’d be easy to go a little crazy ticking the accessories boxes. You will pay more for the funky design over the more traditional Kia Cerato, or significantly more than the Kia Rio SUPERMINI (but it’s way better than the Rio).