You know those ‘magic eye’ pictures, where you’re supposed to stand twenty foot away from the image and then walk towards it slowly, humming Rule Britannia backwards with your eyes crossed and eventually (apparently) you’ll see a picture of a hunting tiger among the meaningless swirls?
There’s always that moment, where you think you’ve made sense of it, then your mind wanders a fraction and you’re left with a headache and a page that looks like it’s been subjected to a toddler with OCD and a Spirograph kit.
I have exactly the same reaction to the Kia Soul.
Don’t get me wrong; I like this car. It drives well, has a good ride quality, and huge amounts of space in a compact body. But I cannot figure out who will buy it.
Think about it – and I mean really concentrate. It could be a rival to the Nissan Qashqai, but then it’s much cheaper and lacks the Qashqai’s plush quality and finish, so it’s not really. It could be a rival to a standard Fiesta-style hatchback, but then it’s taller, harder to park and is more expensive than most cars in the class. So that’s a no as well.
It’s a rival to a Nissan Note or Vauxhall Meriva, but then it doesn’t have anywhere near the necessary amount of child-friendly cubby space or flexible seating arrangements. And, again, it’s difficult to park.
So it’s a high-riding Focus rival? It certainly has the necessary interior space, and it’s a comfortable drive, but would you really want to turn up to a board meeting in something that appears to have driven straight off the set of High School Musical 3?
I think I have the answer. This is not a niche car intended to fill a miniscule crevice in the market at all. This is a car designed as a marketing exercise for a brand that needs to produce something shocking and original in order to make the masses sit up and notice that it’s making more than just cheap cars with long warranties.
It deserves to work, too. The looks are nothing short of polarising, but with the exception of some questionable interior parts it’s a flexible car that has space, price and drivability on its side.
Or it could be a penguin on an iceberg…