What is it?
The second-generation Kia Soul, powered by petrol. Offering a peak 130bhp and coming to market at well under £13k in entry-level form, it both undercuts and out-punches equivalent entry-level petrol versions of pretty much all of its competition – Peugeot 2008, Vauxhall Mokka and Ford EcoSport included.
And since the vast majority of Souls will be sold via retail deals to private owners, it could represent the bigger chunk of the overall sales mix than the more frugal diesel.
Normally aspirated and directly injected, the 1.6-litre engine motor is partnered as standard to a six-speed manual gearbox (another advantage over many rivals), with a six-speed torque converter automatic version an option.
Advantages this petrol has over the diesel, meanwhile, include weight (the GDI’s almost 120kg lighter than the CRDI), weight distribution (which can only be better in the petrol), and – in principal – steering responsiveness (the petrol gets a slightly quicker steering rack).
What's it like?
Striking, and quite appealing. Having been so bold with the design of the original Soul back when there was really no crossover supermini mould to break, Kia’s smoothed the wrinkles and refined the details of the car’s styling, and has added freshness and artistry without eroding the distinctiveness.
And it’s the distinctiveness that’s all-important here; Soul owners will be people who like something a bit different. Even though there’s been an explosion in bestilted B-segment runners in the last three years, the Soul continues to play the eccentric well.
On the inside, the car’s roomier than it was, particularly for heads, as well as richer and better furnished and finished. Equipment levels have significantly improved, too. The fascia could do with more colour and life about it, and the boot could be bigger. That apart, the Soul’s cabin is an impressive place.
So much is true, of course, of a diesel-powered Soul. The petrol engine idles quietly and fairly smoothly, and operates at low revs with little noise or fuss. But the next thing you’ll notice about it is how hard you have to work to get any kind of briskness or urgency back.