From £12,010
New petrol engine makes for a punchier, crisper, more entertaining drive in revised Soul

Our Verdict

Kia Soul 2009-2014
The Soul is billed as a shape-changing slice of urban cool. Is that enough?

The Kia Soul is dull to drive, but it's an appealing, quirky product allthesame

  • First Drive

    Kia Soul 1.6 GDi Hunter

    Despite its shortcomings, the Soul’s new engine makes it a decent enough family chariot
  • First Drive

    Kia Soul 1.6 GDi

    New petrol engine makes for a punchier, crisper, more entertaining drive in revised Soul
5 December 2011

What is it?

Oh, the fun you can have with the name of the Kia Soul… Soul Trader, the putative delivery-van version with the filled-in side windows, perhaps? Two years on from birth, though, the 'crazy' and 'funky' Kia Soul still hasn't quite set the yoof-world alight however much Kia Europe's bosses like to think otherwise.

Currently the visually revved-up versions are called Hunter and Quantum, some way off the Shaker and Burner tags in their verbal ability to get on down. But these new names also signal the Soul's first facelift, with sparklier light designs, revised front and rear extremities and minor tweaks to the cabin.

Much more important is a new petrol engine, still of 1.6 litres but now with 138bhp instead of 122 thanks to direct injection. This all-aluminium unit is mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes, replacing a five-speed manual and a dated four-speed auto. Peak torque also rises but is delivered at a high 4850rpm; the extra gear ratio means the intermediates can be close enough to mask this trait while still giving relaxed cruising.

What’s it like?

Those performance figures tell but a part of the tale. The new engine transforms the Soul, with a keener throttle response and, surprisingly, an almost turbo-like depth of thrust from low revs despite that peak-torque speed.

The engine is smoother, too, and squirting the Soul through a series of fast, hilly bends now becomes a pleasure thanks to the broad torque spread.

The new manual gearbox has a smooth, accurate shift, the clutch has lost its former anaesthesia and even the brakes feel more progressive now.

Should I buy one?

This is a car which has been honed from initial rough-edgedness into a machine which drives very capably. Taut handling and a well-damped ride help make the latest Soul an unexpectedly entertaining companion. Never thought we'd be writing that.

John Simister

Kia Soul 1.6 GDI

Price: from £12,495; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Economy: 44.1mpg; CO2: 149g/km; Kerb weight: 1344kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1591cc; Power: 138bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 122lb ft at 4850rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual or auto

Join the debate

Comments
11

8 December 2011

The styling of the Soul has really grown on me, and the one in the pictures looks fantastic. This engine also appears to be both efficient and powerful, and at this price, it looks to be incredible value.

8 December 2011

I like it very much also. The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though, but I assume the article is correct.

It's a really interesting looking car. At first I thought it was like the Nissan Cube comedy vehicle but actually it's a nice high riding chunky thing. I quite fancy one. And I never thought I'd be saying that about a Kia.

9 December 2011

[quote Evo_ermine]I like it very much also. The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though, but I assume the article is correct.

It's a really interesting looking car. At first I thought it was like the Nissan Cube comedy vehicle but actually it's a nice high riding chunky thing. I quite fancy one. And I never thought I'd be saying that about a Kia. [/quote]

I havee to agree.

Never normally like vehicles like this (can't really call it a car) but I think this one looks great, it seems it drives well and the price looks very competitive - keep it up Kia; I may even buy one!

9 December 2011

This revised Soul still looks good and shows no slowing down for Kia either.

9 December 2011

[quote Evo_ermine]The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though,[/quote]

Given the photographs are of a LHD car with Californian numberplates, presumably a few months away from UK release. Hopefully the same engine and gearboxes will be available in the Rio and other Kia models eventually.

9 December 2011

[quote Evo_ermine]The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though, but I assume the article is correct[/quote] Isn't the car in the article a petrol model? [quote Autocar]Much more important is a new petrol engine, still of 1.6 litres but now with 138bhp instead of 122 thanks to direct injection[/quote]

 

 

9 December 2011

Upon my soul - Oh my little soul - etc etc . I have always liked this little car - and was very tempted to buy one - but the wife wanted something with twin tail pipes and 17 or 18 inc wheels !!! lol women have some weird ideas ( oh she got her wish with a Mazda 6 ) - but now they have fettled the Soul - especially with the 6 speed autobox ( again a wifely requirement grrrrrrrr) - I MUST have a test drive when it arrives. Here in Russia it hasnt been so popular because it fell between small SUV's and something like the Nissan Note (the latter selling in ridiculously high numbers). I think with the new format it will do well

9 December 2011

The front styling looks a mess and the interior tries too hard to be oh so stylish. But at least they've improved matters on the driving side.

9 December 2011

Yes it is a petrol model they test. But the article says

Much more important is a new petrol engine, still of 1.6 litres but now with 138bhp instead of 122 thanks to direct injection. This all-aluminium unit is mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes, replacing a five-speed manual and a dated four-speed auto.

But when I looked at the Kia site (as I'm interested in this car for my mum's soon to be replaced RAV4) it only showed the CRDI diesel models as having the 6 speed auto. Might just be in the middle of updating it though.

9 December 2011

[quote Evo_ermine] The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though[/quote]

Have you been Soul Searching, Evo?

I, like others here, like this car lots. The issue would appear to be the Kia image with the younger generation. As a company they have definitely made inroads to the middle age market with solid products such as the Cee'd and Venga but they're smaller models still seem to lack the "youth factor".

The irony is, I think this is a car that will become very popular once it is discontinued - and that will be a shame.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

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