I was due to take Kia’s Soul for a weeks test directly after the launch at Kilmainham last week. It’s always nice to do that because it means you’re among the first journalists to give a new car a proper test.
Since there were a few cars available, I asked for anything other than silver, which was good on two counts. The red one I took away had more equipment and the fire-engine red paintwork attracted huge attention while I had the car.
In fact, I haven’t had so many comments about a car in a long time and all of them were universally positive. When you come down to it, the new car looks quite similar to the original Soul, but the details have been honed and refined and the result is very pleasing from all angles.
From the back, it reminds me of nothing else but a bigger Volkswagen Up, but from other angles, it has an identity all its own.
Kia styling has made huge strides in recent years, particularly since ex-Audi stylist, Peter Schreyer, has taken over. He’s really made a difference and modern Kias really stand out on the street now.
The interior, too, has been given a stylish makeover, with high quality materials and a modern look. Particularly nice are the front speakers, which are mounted on top of a kind of column, beneath the pillars. It gives a nice high-tech look to the cabin.
On the initial test drive, we were intrigued by a knob on the dashboard labelled mood lighting and music lighting. It was only later in the week when I drove the car in the dark that I discovered the surrounds of the door speakers, white normally, glowed in various colours in time to the music playing from the stereo. A bit disconcerting at first but it’s a cool feature and certainly makes the Soul stand out from the crowd.
The driving experience is first rate, with a quiet engine and a commanding driving position taking the strain out of day-to-day driving. On motorways, the Soul is susceptible to cross winds, but no more so than any similarly tall car.
The seats are extremely comfortable and there’s plenty of room for both front and rear seat passengers. From memory, the last Soul could slide the rear seats fore and aft, to accommodate different luggage requirements but this one doesn’t seem to have that capability. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of boot space so it’s not a real problem.
There are two models available, Platinum and EX, both powered by the same 1.6 litre diesel engine, which produces 128 bhp. Fuel economy is a claimed 5.0 l/100 km on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions are 132 g/km.
Equipment levels, certainly on the EX model I drove, are very generous with standard items including 17” alloys, electrically adjustable and folding mirrors, electric windows, climate control, DAB/MP3/CD radio with USB and aux in, rear view camera, parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth with music streaming, remote locking and hill start to mention only a few items.
There’s a Platinum spec available also with even more equipment but really, the EX lacks nothing to make it a pleasant place to spend time.The really pleasant surprise is the price, which weighs in at an entirely reasonable €24,495 and you get a lot of stylish metal for your money. The Platinum version comes in at €28,495, but I think the sweet spot is the EX.
As with all Kias, the Soul comes with a seven year/150,000 km warranty, three years European roadside assistance and a 12 year anti-perforation warranty, which is one of the most comprehensive warranty packages available currently.
The Soul turns heads, is well equipped and drives nicely. What more could you want?