From £12,010
New petrol engine makes for a punchier, crisper, more entertaining drive in revised Soul
Autocar
5 December 2011

What is it?

Oh, the fun you can have with the name of the Kia Soul… Soul Trader, the putative delivery-van version with the filled-in side windows, perhaps? Two years on from birth, though, the 'crazy' and 'funky' Kia Soul still hasn't quite set the yoof-world alight however much Kia Europe's bosses like to think otherwise.

Currently the visually revved-up versions are called Hunter and Quantum, some way off the Shaker and Burner tags in their verbal ability to get on down. But these new names also signal the Soul's first facelift, with sparklier light designs, revised front and rear extremities and minor tweaks to the cabin.

Much more important is a new petrol engine, still of 1.6 litres but now with 138bhp instead of 122 thanks to direct injection. This all-aluminium unit is mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes, replacing 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 the intermediates can be close enough to mask this trait while still giving relaxed cruising.

What’s it like?

Those performance figures tell but a part of the tale. The new engine transforms the Soul, with a keener throttle response and, surprisingly, an almost turbo-like depth of thrust from low revs despite that peak-torque speed.

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 new manual gearbox has a smooth, accurate shift, the clutch has lost its former anaesthesia and even the brakes feel more progressive now.

Should I buy one?

This is a car which has been honed from initial rough-edgedness into a machine which drives very capably. Taut handling and a well-damped ride help make the latest Soul an unexpectedly entertaining companion. Never thought we'd be writing that.

John Simister

Kia Soul 1.6 GDI

Price: from £12,495; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Economy: 44.1mpg; CO2: 149g/km; Kerb weight: 1344kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1591cc; Power: 138bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 122lb ft at 4850rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual or auto

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Join the debate

Comments
11
Add a comment…
Evo_ermine 9 December 2011

Re: Kia Soul 1.6 GDi

TegTypeR wrote:

Have you been Soul Searching, Evo?


Yes, seem to do a lot of that these days Teg!
TegTypeR 9 December 2011

Re: Kia Soul 1.6 GDi

Evo_ermine wrote:
The Kia website only seems to list an auto being available on the diesel model though

Have you been Soul Searching, Evo?

I, like others here, like this car lots. The issue would appear to be the Kia image with the younger generation. As a company they have definitely made inroads to the middle age market with solid products such as the Cee'd and Venga but they're smaller models still seem to lack the "youth factor".

The irony is, I think this is a car that will become very popular once it is discontinued - and that will be a shame.

Evo_ermine 9 December 2011

Re: Kia Soul 1.6 GDi

Yes it is a petrol model they test. But the article says

Much more important is a new petrol engine, still of 1.6 litres but now with 138bhp instead of 122 thanks to direct injection. This all-aluminium unit is mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes, replacing a five-speed manual and a dated four-speed auto.

But when I looked at the Kia site (as I'm interested in this car for my mum's soon to be replaced RAV4) it only showed the CRDI diesel models as having the 6 speed auto. Might just be in the middle of updating it though.

Find an Autocar car review