Chunky and fun best describes the Korean firm’s baby SUV crossover. Soul’s cheeky exterior styling has evolved and thankfully remains true to the 2008 original.
Five-door Soul is built on a new platform that is shared with the ‘cee’d’. Soul now has a stiffer and slightly bigger body. While it looks very similar to the first Soul, the entire exterior is new. 17-inch alloys are now standard and the already impressive level of equipment and kit is improved upon. There are two specifications available: EX is the entry-level (reversing camera/cruise control/bluetooth) and Platinum. Platinum gets in addition, 18-inch alloys, leather seats (heated up front and the driver gets electric seat adjustment also), a panoramic sunroof and a more impressive sound system.
Inside, you will still find hard plastics about the place, but overall, the cabin feels classier. Build quality is good and there is a nice bit of personality on show like the yellow stitching in the chunky leather steering wheel and of course a favourite party trick from the original Soul - the illuminated, sound activated speakers. Soul can do a good impression of an old school disco if you pump up the volume. A rotary dial allows the driver to choose from three settings: Off, Music or Mood. In music mode the circular lights that surround the speakers pulses to low frequency sound – it’s silly, but fun!
Soul is slightly bigger inside than the original and while it is a five-seater, the back is best suited to kids - or no kids at all! Access is easier too with a lower floor and seat ‘hip heights’. The cabin is quieter thanks to better sound proofing. The boot holds 354-litres (was 350) and can be expanded to 686-litres with the rear seats down.
One engine is fitted on Irish cars, a 1.6-litre CRDi diesel. The four-cylinder, 16-valve unit pushes out 128hp and more importantly 260nm of pulling power. Soul feels tight and zippy on the road. The original Soul was quite a hard riding machine and this has been addressed in the latest car with major suspension revisions. Soul isn’t a GTI when it comes to handling. There is a fair bit of body roll when cornering, but nothing alarming. While the engine isn’t the quietest diesel we driven it is well suited to the Soul as it delivers smooth linear power. Kia quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 5-litres per 100 kilometres (circa 56mpg). A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a six-speed automatic is available. Our manual test car at times was reluctant to confidently engage reverse gear but other wise all the driving controls fall into the easy to use category. HAC (hill-start assist control) is standard.
When launched in Ireland Soul cost €19,995, now it starts at €24,495 - ouch. Please Kia give us a cheaper entry point as it is only a few quid more to get into your Sportage! Soul is fun, but success isn’t guaranteed in a busy little sector.
Kia Ireland expects to sell between 300-400 in 2015.