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Kia Soul 2014 review: road test

EXPERT RATING
7
They won't admit it, but you'd have to reckon Kia discussed whether to kill off the Soul.

They won't admit it, but you'd have to reckon Kia discussed whether to kill off the Soul. It's the least productive model in the burgeoning Kia lineup, but an attention getter nevertheless. Perhaps this is what saved the Soul -- but not entirely.

Launched this month, the second generation Soul has been rationalised, from three models with three engine choices to a single model with just the one power plant. The huge range of options to customise the car inside and out has also been deleted. But it's not all bad news for Soul fans...

Value

The bottom line is that the car is priced from $23,990 for the manual and $25,990 for the auto, with $620 for premium paint. You still get cruise and Bluetooth with audio streaming, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Engine / Transmission

Where's the new 1.6 engine with direct injection? The smaller 1.6-litre petrol engine and the 1.6-litre turbodiesel have gone. New Soul cops a reboot of the multi-point 2.0-litre NU petrol engine, retuned to meet Euro 5 emissions standards with a consequent loss of power and torque. It now produces 113kW of power at 6200 revs and 191Nm of torque at 4700rpm, instead of 122kW/200Nm.

The 2.0-litre engine is once again paired with Kia's 6-speed auto or a manual for the first time. Fuel consumption for the manual is rated at 7.6 and for the auto 8.4 litres/100km (the auto was previously good for 7.5 litres/100km).

Design

Its longer and wider than before, with a 20mm longer wheelbase. It's also heavier which in part explains the higher fuel consumption. The previous model weighed 1342kg while this one weighs in at 1405kg.

But it should be noted the gear ratios have also been altered to meet emissions and performance targets. The Flex steer system has also been added, which allows the driver to dial in the amount of steering effort required and this is the first Kia to be fitted with tyre pressure monitoring.

Safety

Like its predecessor it gets five stars for safety, with six airbags, a reversing camera, reverse parking sensors and a full suite of safety systems.

Driving

We've always had a soft spot for this car. Maybe it's the looks, maybe it's the practicality of the boxy design, with its ease of access. Either way the Soul provides comfortable transport for four adults (five at a pinch) and is only let down by its small boot - small that is with the rear seat up.

We're told the boot is bigger, with 16 litres more capacity but it still looks the same to us. With the back down we are told you can fit a standard European pallet. Yes the engine delivers less power, but the performance is more than adequate. On a much brighter note the ride and handling have finally been given the Graeme Gambold treatment, the bloke who tunes all of Kia's vehicles these days. Where once the ride was harsh in places, it is discernibly better this time around.

This car has always been misunderstood. Most people view it as an expensive hatch, when it is in fact much more than this. Kia is attempting to reposition Soul as a crossover vehicle, a concept it hopes most people will be able to grasp with roof rails, beefed up guards and a more aggressive overall look. We don't miss the coloured motifs or flashing interior lights, but we do pine for the killer sound system with its separate amp and subwoofer.

Verdict

Still like it. Looks funkier and deserves more attention. Shame about the customisation program.

Pricing guides

$13,334
Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$9,990
Highest Price
$17,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $6,600 – 10,230 2014 Kia Soul 2014 (base) Pricing and Specs
+ 1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $9,500 – 14,300 2014 Kia Soul 2014 + Pricing and Specs
Si 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,900 – 12,210 2014 Kia Soul 2014 Si Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7