Seoul Soul with funk

Kia’s un­der­rated city car gets more go

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - MARK HINCHLIFFE mark.hinchliffe@cars­guide.com.au

KIA’S cu­ri­ously cubed small car may have soul, and now it has guts— thanks to a frisky 2.0-litre petrol en­gine shoe­horned into the dis­tinc­tive city car along with new sixspeed trans­mis­sions and cos­metic touches.

Kia Mo­tors Aus­tralia boss Tony Bar­low says the car has won hearts among older buy­ers, who ap­pre­ci­ate its high hip-height for easy ac­cess, good vis­i­bil­ity and ease of park­ing. Soul sales are up 22.9 per cent this year to 386. But it is still lan­guish­ing near the bot­tom of the light car cat­e­gory.

VALUE

The base 1.6-litre six-speed man­ual is still $21,490, de­spite adding the sixth ra­tio, as well as ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity man­age­ment and hill as­sist con­trol. The au­to­matic adds $2200.

Top-of-the-range Soul+ diesel man­ual is $27,990, an in­crease of $800, while the auto adds $2000. It also gets 18-inch al­loys and a lug­gage cover.

The 2.0-litre petrol model comes with the same level of spec­i­fi­ca­tion as the diesel and costs $26,990, with a six-speed auto as stan­dard.

The only real com­peti­tor is the equally well-specced Toy­ota Rukus, which starts at $27,490 but doesn’t have a diesel vari­ant. The Rukus is also a big­ger car and comes with a more pow­er­ful 2.4-litre petrol en­gine.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Kia has made no changes to the me­chan­i­cal un­der­pin­nings. The new ‘‘ NU’’ gen­er­a­tion 2.0-litre en­gine pro­duces 122kw/200nm.

The 1.6-litre petrol en­gine gets a mi­nor power and torque im­prove­ment to 96kw and 157Nm. The diesel is un­changed at 94kw/260nm.

A six-speed man­ual re­places the five-speed box in the base and diesel mod­els and the sixspeed auto su­per­sedes a four­speeder.

Fuel con­sump­tion is marginally bet­ter in the petrol auto to 7.3L/100km (down by 0.3L). The 2.0-litre model re­turns a re­spectable 7.5L/100km.

You get a good suite of tech, in­clud­ing Blue­tooth, cruisec­on­trol, ipod and MP3 con­nec­tiv­ity. From a low-tech stand­point, the Soul now has a reach-ad­justable steer­ing wheel that makes it eas­ier for driv­ers of any size to find a com­fort­able po­si­tion.

DE­SIGN

Un­til Nis­san de­cides to bring in the Cube, the Soul’s only style com­par­i­son is the Rukus. It’s hard to make a brick look good, but the in­flu­ence of Kia chief de­signer Peter Schreyer is

Tick the box: The prac­ti­cal and ver­sa­tile Soul­now packs a bit more punch

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