What is it?
Now this is clever. If you want to distract people from your non- premium status, how about making a car with no premium rivals? The Kia Soul is a C-Segment car all right, but it’s more mini-MPV than five-door hatch, so there isn’t much out there to put it up against. The pricey and boring Toyota Urban Cruiser perhaps? Maybe the C3 Picasso at a push. It’s certainly way more interesting, and miles cheaper, than a VW Golf Plus or estate. So we’re not sure what the Kia Soul is, but we certainly like what it does.
The Soul is better on the move than those boxy looks would have you believe. With a high ride height and lofty centre of gravity it was never going to be about the handling with this one, but it rides well enough, absorbing the road’s imperfections nicely and staying upright and comfortable in faster corners.
There are only two engine options to mull over with the Soul, and although the 1.6-litre petrol does an adequate job it’s well worth digging a little deeper for the torquey 1.6 diesel, which offers far more useful all-round performance and significantly better fuel economy.
And you can save yourself some money by saying no to the pointless graphics packs and avoiding the trap of forking out for tarty 18-inch alloys. Admittedly, the latter will make the Soul look a bit cooler, but they absolutely hammer the ride quality.
On the inside
You can customise the Soul with coloured dashboards and matching seat trims, all of which might seem very tempting. And it can work if you do it right, but remember that it’s going to have an impact on resale value when you start getting too personal in there. The fact is, the Soul’s cabin is good enough in boggo-standard trim, with an imaginatively styled and nicely executed console and instrument layout with all the important controls clear and easy to get at.
Space is the big thing for the Soul anyway, with masses of head- and legroom front and rear. You can get four big adults in here with real ease, or three kids in the back. Just don’t expect an MPV-esque flexible boot.
And like all Kias, the Soul comes well equipped, even in its most basic trim, with things like alloys, air-conditioning and remote central locking all thrown in. Marvellous value.
Reassured by Kia’s great warranty, you can dive into Kia ownership without any serious doubts. The Soul appears to be sturdily made, even if it lacks the real attention to detail of more expensive brands, but this is a fun product, not a badge-conscious one.