From £12,010
Unusual supermini alternative impresses with value, practicality and dynamics

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

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What is it?

This is the Kia Soul 2 1.6 petrol, the mid-spec version of Kia’s supermini-sized SUV crossover. If that sounds confusing, then think of the Kia Soul as a jacked-up chunky supermini with a dash of Mini Clubman-style ‘lifestyle’ desirability chucked in.

Eventually the ranks of the supermini-based quasi-SUVs will be swollen by the addition of the Skoda Yeti and the production version of the Nissan Qazana concept (due to be shown at Geneva), a car based on the platform of the next Nissan Micra. For now, though, the Kia Soul finds itself with few rivals.

What’s it like?

When we tried the diesel version of the Kia Soul in Korea, we came away impressed by the concept, but disappointed by the ride and handling.

Since then, however, the Kia Soul has made a trip to the folks at Lotus Engineering, who have fine-tuned the chassis for the tricky demands of the UK road network.

Lotus hasn’t made major changes, but has tweaked the damper rates and rebound settings.

The result of these changes is impressive. The Kia Soul flows with the undulations of a road in a way that belies its chunky shape and Korean provenance. It’s composed, yet it rarely feels too firm and it soaks up transverse ridges and surface imperfections with quiet ease.

The Kia Soul is not an agile car, but it always feels planted and self-assured. The electric power steering is heavy at low to medium speeds, but it feels accurate and incisive as you start to press on.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine in the Kia Soul 2 puts out 124bhp, but a weak 115lbft of torque at quite a heady 4200rpm. Still, it revs reasonably sweetly and combines well with a slick five-speed gearbox to make working it hard a relatively rewarding experience.

Still, the Kia Soul 2 is good for 62mph from rest in 11.0sec. Fuel consumption and emissions aren’t bad either; the Kia Soul 2 1.6 pumps out 153g/km of CO2 and manages 43.5mpg on the official combined cycle.

The Soul feels impressively well built, too. There are some hard-feeling plastics, but they’re tucked out of the way.

The only real black marks are for the driving position. The steering wheel only adjusts for rake, and an adjustable seat squab would also have made finding a comfortable driving position a mite easier.

Should I buy one?

The Kia Soul, in its final UK form, is definitely a step forward for Kia. It drives well and rides much better than we expected (and significantly better than the wooden Cee’d three-door).

The Soul is also spacious, good value and, above all, interesting. If you’re looking for something supermini-sized that stands out from the crowd, you could do far worse.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate

Comments
18

18 February 2009

18 February 2009

When Ford Transit met Diahatsu Sirion and who chose that hideous colour...urggghhh

18 February 2009

[quote Autocar]think of the Kia Soul as a jacked-up chunky supermini [/quote]

Isn't that what the Ford Fusion was? The Fusion never sold well because it didn't really offer anything of note to tempt buyers away from the Fiesta. Where were the sliding seats or other USP? I fear the same for the Soul. AT least the Soul is more interesting to look at, but not in that colour - it looks like it's started to rust.

18 February 2009

....it could do 0-60 in 5 seconds, 65mpg and cost £5000 and it would still get knocked !!! But then Skoda used to get all that so perhaps there is hope.

Anyway there seems to be a lot of missing the point, if you want super practical buy a Honda Jazz it will do Tardis tricks until the end of time.

As to the Fusion (and the Golf Plus for that matter) the most characterless, style-less lumps ever to be turned out. The supermini markets is painfully self-conscious and image sensitive (or Grey haired). They had no chance.

This is a cracking product from Kia, sound like its good to drive, funky and I probably better value than most, why shouldn't it succeed. Eventually even Obama got over prejudice.

18 February 2009

i liked the car inside and out but the old-fashioned door handles look real ugly

18 February 2009

I have no prejudice against Kia or any car manufacturer, I understand Kia make some reasonable products.

But i cannot personally see on what level this is desirable especially in that orrible colour.

18 February 2009

Ok, look past the colour and what you see is a really great, funky looking car! I personally can't wait to see one on the road and would (from what i already know) love to own one.

As for comparing the Soul to the Fusion, are we even talking about the same car? There is nothing to compare, the Fusion is bland, ordinary and 'grey'. The Soul on the other hand is so different to anything else on the roads, if it's not a hit i will be very surprised.

18 February 2009

I had the fortune of spending the day at a training/test drive day last week for the Soul (I work for a dealership selling Kias), and was absolutely blown away by the car, it looks fantastic. It is a very comfortable car, and you feel at one almost instantly with it when driving it. Steering is quite responsive. Drove all models, and the 2 is probably the nicest, not as funky as the three special editions, but the 16" alloys give it a nicer ride than the 18" alloys on those three.

I would recommend that anyone thinking that this is a "Ford Fusion" type car goes and sees it in the metal when it launches. It is about as close to the Fusion as a horse is to a cow.

Gerwyn

18 February 2009

[quote Krysh]Ok, look past the colour and what you see is a really great, funky looking car![/quote]

Yes, but the colour, oh the colour!

Is Poo Brown the new White? Every 2009 concept car seems to be launched in this colour. I remember a long time ago working in a Jaguar showroom and my then sales manager ordering an XJ in the equivalent that Jaguar called 'Roman Bronze'. The car sat there for months and months with no interest, and they guy nearly lost his job because of it. Thankfully some nice myopic retired gentleman eventually came along bought it and saved his neck.

Back to the days of the seventies for colour schemes I fear - bring on the vinyl roofs!

19 February 2009

When are Audi going to see the light and visit Lotus to get their suspension sorted?

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