This all-aluminium unit is mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes, which replaced 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 that the intermediates can be close enough to mask this trait while still giving relaxed cruising.
The 138bhp engine transforms the Soul, with a keener throttle response and, surprisingly, an almost turbo-like depth of thrust from low revs despite that lofty torque peak. 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 Soul’s original petrol engine was thrashy and really needed working to make progress. There were also a few performance discrepancies on our original road test of the Soul – but in a good way. Kia claimed a 0-62mph time of exactly 11sec, but the test car reached 60mph in 9.7sec.
The car's manual gearbox has a smooth, accurate shift, the clutch has lost its former anaesthesia and even the brakes feel quite progressive.