There are ground rules for good design, but it’s still a very subjective area. That’s why some people consider the Kia Soul an edgy piece of quasi-military styling that’s just right for its role as an urban protection module to be filled with pals sharing musical tastes. Others think it plain ugly. Either way, it polarises opinion.

The visual toughness comes from the high body sides, the thick roof with its corrugated reinforcements and the way that the side window section, with its blacked-in screen pillars, tapers towards the rear to add to the notion of viewing hostile forces through a narrow-vision slit.

The Soul is nothing if not eye-catching, particularly with optional body graphics

The bonnet is high, the rear lights are protected beneath huge, glass-like covers, the wheel arches bulge, and both front and rear valances incorporate fake skid plates to hint at SUV tendencies. There’s even a false air vent on each flank, aping those on a Range Rover Sport.

The roof header rail is unusually bluff, helping to provide plentiful headroom and a quasi-military look. Thick rear pillars and masking on the edges of the rear window restrict the rear three-quarter view out. This and the high, rising waistline mean that close parking takes practice.

The rear lights have clear covers; the indicator has a pink reflector in an (unsuccessful) attempt to tie it in with the red one below it. The Soul’s upright tailgate is opened by tilting the Kia badge, although the load sill is higher than it looks.

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