What is it?
According to Kia, the Soul is an ‘urban crossover passenger car’. But if that sounds as confusing to you as it does for us, it may be better to think of it as a tall, wide – but short – hatchback. And one which looks smart and funky.
The Soul is also Kia trying to become cooler. Up until now the brand has been closely associated with well-made cars that are easy to drive and inexpensive to own. Yet the company’s marketing men unashamedly mention the Mini when talking about the Soul.
This is a car that we’re meant to buy for its looks and image rather than just the warranty, something borne out by a long list of Mini-like ‘personalisation’ options.
Underneath, the Soul is a little more prosaic, being based on the same front-drive platform as the Hyundai i20 – a package that will also underpin future models including a new Kia supermini. UK buyers will get to choose between two 125bhp 1.6-litre engines, one petrol and one diesel. A start-stop system will be offered later.
What’s it like?
The driving experience doesn’t quite live up to the billing of the design, but the Soul is competent, safe and sensible. The diesel engine is undoubtedly the better choice, with torque enough to motivate the Soul’s relatively chunky kerbweight – a drive in the petrol confirms it needs to be revved hard to give its best.