Seoul Soul with funk
Kia’s underrated city car gets more go
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.
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.
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.
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