Road Test: Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi 2 5dr Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 1st April
First Drive

Road Test: Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi 2 5dr

£14,150 when new
Published: 01 May 2014


  • BHP


  • 0-62


  • CO2


  • Max Speed


  • Insurance


Squint at it long enough, and you might notice that this is the new Kia Soul. No, really; not a single body panel has been carried over. However, this styling stagnation is no bad thing - we've always admired the Soul's upright, square-shouldered stance, and the refresh has done it no harm at all. Just be warned that some of the two-tone colour combos are a bit much, beige and black being a prime example.

The interior is convincing, any dodgy plastics are banished to distant crevices normally only populated by lint and half-sucked boiled sweets. Closer to your eyeline, the dashboard looks good, the seats are comfy, and ergonomically the Soul is well resolved. Plus there's a lot of room in the back, a chunky boot and the option of specifying all manner of high-end toys - including cruise control, an excellent satnav system, full climate and leather. Kia's drive upmarket means it wants to make sure you have as much choice here as in a VW Tiguan.

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Some suspension fettling has occurred, the express desire being to give the Soul a better ride and improved grip. Pick either of the two 1.6-litre engines on offer and motorway cruising is unruffled. As for the handling, there's nothing wrong with the Soul - it resists both roll and understeer well enough - but there's precious little reward to thrashing it. Plus, the three steering modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) are minimally different, and none offers any feel whatsoever.

Avoid both the petrol engine and the auto gearbox. The petrol is smooth but completely gutless, while the auto is lost on engines with less than 130bhp, plus it hits economy, emissions and performance hard. Much better to pick the manual CRDi diesel, and enjoy its meaty, low-down torque. It's a fine motor and a reasonable transmission, and this drivetrain makes the Soul pleasing to get about in.

The range starts at just £12,600 for a, er, petrol Start model, with the top-line diesel Maxx costing £21,550. Kia UK expects to sell around 3,000 a year. We reckon it might do better than that - the Soul has made the jump from appealing oddity to just plain appealing.

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