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Kia Soul + CRDi 2012 review

We like this little Soul bus because it has plenty of cheek. The brutally cut-off rear styling is a cute standout and the frontal treatment, recently revamped, has plenty of attitude even if it's a tad "try hard" with over-styled headlights.

The Kia Soul started out a few years back as something of an oddity and was available with silly graphics and paint schemes. A reality check and restyle by Kia's design gurus sees Soul present as a viable compact SUV alternative. It fits in among the likes of RAV4, Mitsubishi ASX and the like.


We got hold of the top priced $29,990 diesel auto Soul + complete with 18-inch alloys, roof rails, fog lights and adjustable driver's seat height. It is a generously equipped car that goes extremely well using minimal fuel.


2012 Kia Soul

Explore the 2012 Kia Soul range

Plenty of power comes from the 1.6-litre, turbodiesel, four-cylinder driving the front wheels through a six-speed auto. A six-speed manual is standard. Outputs are 94kW/260Nm  same as other vehicles in the Hyundai/Kia range that use this powertrain.

The auto is a cracker and is used throughout the Hyundai/Kia lineup. It offers sequential change mode and is both smooth and efficient. The engine has a variable geometry turbo to reduce lag off idle and boost mid-range and top end performance.It's a twin cam engine capable of returning 5.9-litres/100km fuel economy meaning an 800km range from the 48 litre tank.

Emissions are minimised through engine technology and a particle filter in the exhaust to give Soul a Euro 5 emissions rating. It also gets a five star crash rating. Hi fives all round if you include the fuel economy figure. Under the funky bodywork is a conventional vehicle with a strut front/torsion beam rear suspension capable of towing up to 1100kg braked.


All Souls get numerous storage compartments, Bluetooth phone and audio, decent six speaker sound with power bass as well as a host of other goodies. Seats for five and a large load space give it a practical edge as does the amount of headroom and legroom.


The drive feel is all good with plenty of at times noisy performance available at will and especially in the mid range of engine speeds. It has a decent turning circle for city work but the spare is a temporary unit. The vehicle seems to be built on the same platform as Kia's small Cerato hatch and it feels a bit like that to drive offering up a firmish ride, quick steering responses and impressive cornering despite the top heavy look.


We found the ride a bit choppy with those low profile 18s but overall, the Soul is an adept little butter box. Kids love it. The whole box and dice is made even better with fixed price servicing and roadside assist.

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Range and Specs

(base) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $5,500 – 8,580 2012 Kia Soul 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
+ 1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,000 – 10,890 2012 Kia Soul 2012 + Pricing and Specs