From £12,010
Despite its shortcomings, the Soul’s new engine makes it a decent enough family chariot

Our Verdict

Kia Soul 2009-2014

The Kia Soul is dull to drive, but it's an appealing, quirky product allthesame

  • First Drive

    Kia Soul 1.6 GDi Hunter

    Despite its shortcomings, the Soul’s new engine makes it a decent enough family chariot
  • First Drive

    Kia Soul 1.6 GDi

    New petrol engine makes for a punchier, crisper, more entertaining drive in revised Soul
24 February 2012
Kia Soul 1.6 GDi Hunter

What is it

The Kia Soul ‘urban crossover’ has been given a mid-life facelift and we were impressed with the updates when we drove it in Nice late last year. Included in the revamp are new bumper and headlamp designs, a refreshed cabin facia and improved standard kit.

More notably, however, Kia has ditched the model’s 124bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine in favour of a more powerful 138bhp unit of the same displacement. The existing 1.6-litre oil-burner has also been revised to lower CO2 emissions by 8g/km to 129g/km, making the diesel exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty in its first year. Also new to the Soul model is the addition of an extra forward gear; now six in total.

Here, we’re testing the new 2012 offering in 1.6 GDi Hunter trim, which comes with large 18-inch alloys, sunroof and a reversing camera.

What’s it like?

Like the car we tested in France, we’re impressed with the new petrol engine. Keener throttle response and brawnier low-end torque transform the Soul’s usability around town and make getting up to speed on motorways less of a chore than before.

The new six-speed manual gearbox also works well with the stronger engine and enables slick changes between any gear for progressive acceleration.

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Akin to the latest crop of Kias we’ve driven (Picanto included), it’s the Soul’s steering that lets the car down. It’s too light, feels almost disconnected from the front wheels and won’t inspire swift steering inputs. Saying that, the new Soul corners smoothly with limited body roll. Not that you’d want to launch the Soul into a corner with too much speed; poor brake pedal feel also detracts from the driving experience.

During typical town jaunts, uneven UK road surfaces rattle the car’s flimsy interior plastics and audibly knock the suspension components. Up the speed on open roads and the car’s limited sound deadening highlights tyre roar wind noise.

Should I buy one?

Despite its shortcomings, the Soul’s new engine makes it a decent enough family chariot. There’s plenty of space front and back - with up to 818 litres of load capacity available - bags of standard kit and running costs will be low. And don’t forget Kia’s seven-year/100,000 mile warranty.

Alex Kertsen

Kia Soul 1.6 GDI Hunter

Price: from £15,095; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.0sec; Economy: 44.1mpg; CO2: 149g/km; Kerb weight: 1245kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1591cc; Power: 138bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 122lb ft at 4850rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


3 March 2012

This is much better value than most family cars, and I'd think again if I were looking to buy a Focus, Golf or Astra. In fact, I'd think again if I were looking at a Cee'd.

I drove an early Soul with a diesel engine, and I wasn't too keen. Whilst I haven't driven a petrol version, I've heard positive things, and I reckon it must be a very decent car in this guise.

3 March 2012

From test-driving the Soul I can categorically state that the 18" wheels are absolutely the wrong choice for the vehicle. The 16"ers transform the ride and rolling refinement, though the suspension is still a little too noisy (though not working as hard) at and 70mph there is still tyre roar, just not quite as much. I liked the Soul, but the "funky" versions are the worst.

3 March 2012

The 16 inchers should be better in the UK but in Russia because of the 5-6 months snow we need just that little extra ground clearance. What disappointed me from this report was the mention of rattles!!! This must have been a Friday car that Autocar had because I have driven dozens of Soul's and never encountered this item. I want to check the new engine soonest it arrives. I really like this little car and the upgrades really put it way ahead of the class and value for money!

4 March 2012

Although I dislike SUV's and any sort of people carrier style of vehicle, for some reason I like the look of these Kia's - maybe it is just a styling success.

However I agree with petrolheadinsrussia that 18 inch wheels are not the way to go with this sort of vehicle - you don't buy one to scrape the doorhandles on the tarmac so why specify 18 inchers with rubber band tyres, unless bling is the aim (in which case a Kia Soul would probably not be your choice of vehicle anyway).

Also nice to see a Kia that (as far as I am aware) is not a clone of a Hyundai, and as has been said the price makes it a very attractive proposition compared with a low to mid spec Focus, Astra or even Golf

5 March 2012

Funky nice little car, along Scion's philosophy.


5 March 2012

Soul Hunter - sounds like the title of a vampire film.

5 March 2012

[quote DKW]Hunter[/quote]

been thinking about the handle on this one. Memory serves correct in saying

Hilman Hunter was possibly the first to use it

More recently it has been used in Russia y AutoVaz with their Jeep (pre Patriot) when they called it Hunter

Anyone else remember the use of this title on a passenger vehicle?

5 March 2012

Yes, would have thought Peugeot still owned the use of that moniker in uk, along with Rapier, etc.

5 March 2012

With faux by faux looks this is an attempt to ride the wave of fashion for small SUVs.

Good luck Kia, qashqai cash-in.

6 March 2012

You would have thought they'd take the oppotunity to quiten things down in the cabin, this isn't the first report to mention road noise, one of my pet hates.

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