Last weekend, I spent my first period of quality time with our long term Kia Soul. Being a twenty something (well, I’m 20) I’m just the sort of person Kia is aiming its new soft-roader/mini MPV crossover at.
But being a twenty something, I always have to watch the pennies and this is where the Soul’s biggest fault in my eyes comes in with its rather disappointing fuel economy figures.
Over the weekend, I did around 350 miles travelling from Teddington to Norwich and back, with a return trip to Great Yarmouth thrown in the middle. This cost me £50 in fuel, a return of around 32mpg. I was hardly spirited with my use of the throttle so this figure could have been worse if I really was going for it.
This figure backs up the 34mpg we achieved when road testing this very Soul earlier this year, so my experience of it wasn’t just a one off. In a car of its size and 1220kg weight, the 124bhp, 115lb ft 1.6-litre petrol engine just feels too underpowered to make the Soul a sensible economic choice for its target market, especially when you could get a new Fiesta for similar money.
On the motorway, the engine is noisy and a bit unrefined and you have to turn the radio up to make the cabin a more pleasurable place. On the subject of the radio, however, the sound quality is excellent and you can even pick up Radio 4 LW without any interference.
The lack of a sixth gear is also an issue too and I think the addition of a sixth ratio would solve a lot of the Soul’s fuel economy problems and make motorway cruising a quieter experience. It also has the same aerodynamic qualities as a brick, which again hinders any hope of a decent return at the pumps.
I am starting to get my head around the Soul’s looks, though. I remember seeing several Souls driving around Norfolk earlier this year and late last year when Lotus was involved in tweaking its ride and handling for UK roads and it was as striking then as it is now.
I’ve seen a couple of Souls in London in black and it actually looks a lot more dynamic and lovable than the orange colour adorning our Soul’s bodywork. Black Soul’s compliment the car’s styling better and it is a much more appealing prospect, especially to its target market.
I hope the Soul will eventually win me over and perhaps with a 1.6-litre diesel or even better, the 2.0-litre diesel it could well do. But hey, if it’s good enough for Sussex Police, then it’s good enough for me.