Soul re­vival

It’s the ur­ban war­rior for the ur­bane driver

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@news.com.au

SLIP­PERY, stream­lined cars might use less fuel but there comes a point at which prac­ti­cal­ity rears its ugly head.

Kia’s Soul is a box with wheels. It’s made for con­ges­tion and tight park­ing bays and meets a de­mand for max­i­mum cabin space with­out be­com­ing a van. The Soul, now in its sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, is ter­rific at what it’s de­signed to do.

VALUE

This is not a hatch and not a wagon. Like Toy­ota’s Rukus, it lives in a half world oc­cu­pied by florists and ur­ban couri­ers. So you have to think out of the box — lit­er­ally — to un­der­stand the value in the Soul. If you think it’s funky then you’ve no un­der­stand­ing of the no­tion. Weirdly, you’re prob­a­bly the per­fect Soul owner.

Seats with a high hip point, lots of room for grand­kids, height-ad­justable boot floor and de­fin­able body cor­ners make this a prac­ti­cal and sim­ple ve­hi­cle for older driv­ers.

Stan­dard equip­ment is good for the $25,990 price of the au­to­matic ver­sion. Own­er­ship costs are ex­cel­lent — $892 for three years of ser­vic­ing, fiveyear un­lim­ited dis­tance war­ranty with road­side as­sis­tance and a rea­son­able 48 per cent re­sale af­ter three years. All good.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Noth­ing out­ra­geous here. It uses a Rio plat­form and the Kia-com­mon 113kW/191Nm 2.0-litre petrol en­gine mated to a six-speed auto. Kia claims fuel use 8.4L/100km in ba­sic un­leaded. That’s quite poor.

The steer­ing is elec­tric-as­sist and is one of the com­pany’s bet­ter jobs. Sus­pen­sion is par­for-the-course MacPher­son front and tor­sion-bar rear but a lot of tun­ing has been done in Aus­tralia. Soul gets all-wheel disc brakes. It is rated to tow a max­i­mum of 1100kg.

DE­SIGN

I think you’ve got the pic­ture. Cabin de­sign and er­gonomics are its strengths. There are very com­fort­able seats, high seat­ing and body cor­ners you can al­most sense when park­ing, nice au­dio and a high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and build.

The multi-level boot stores a so-so 238L with rear seats up but re­deems it­self with a big 1251L when the seats are down.

A space-saver spare is stan­dard but a full-size wheel could fit in the hole.

SAFETY

The Soul gets five stars with six airbags, brake emer­gency dis­play, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity and trac­tion with brake as­sist. It has auto head­lights, rear park sen­sors and re­verse cam­era. Park as­sist graph­ics help with de­ter­min­ing the car’s po­si­tion in a su­per­mar­ket bay. The spare is a space-saver.

DRIV­ING

The proof of the pud­ding is in the eat­ing and even an en­thu­si­as­tic driver will dine well on the spirit of the Soul. The bigg(ish) en­gine puts out a strong and flat spread of torque to be eas­ily de­liv­ered by the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

But in slow-fast con­dions such as wind­ing coun­try roads, the box has a habit of hunt­ing for gears that is best quelled by switch­ing to its man­ual mode.

Ride com­fort and quiet­ness are very good con­sid­er­ing that the box shape lends it­self to noise booms.

Best of all is its pre­dictable size which makes it so easy to ma­noeu­vre through traf­fic and park in tight bays.

VER­DICT

Prac­ti­cal, sen­si­ble and roomy and tests your pow­ers of ar­gu­ment skills with fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours.

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