Novelty and value
The second-generation Soul arrived in Australian showrooms in 2014 priced from about $28,990 drive-away, putting it largely out of reach of the younger buyers it’s aimed at. But late last year, Kia trimmed the price to a more reasonable $24,990 drive-away. That’s a lot of car for the money but still not as sharp as when it limboed closer to $20,000 in the previous generation. That’s the price of progress.
The Soul comes with six airbags, rear view camera and sensors, remote entry (with a flick key), airconditioning and an industry-leading seven-year factory-backed warranty. The only blots on an otherwise impressive equipment list are: no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, no digital speedo and the driver’s power window is auto down only (most new cars have auto up as well). Most Kias have full-size spares but not this one — there’s a skinny space-saver.
The price is higher than the previous model’s discount days but the quality has stepped up a notch. The seat cushioning and fabrics feel durable, and the presentation of the instruments is clear and classy. The doors close with a reassuring “thwack”.
As a city runabout, the Soul is not meant to get the heart racing. Instead, it feels comfortable and safe. The power steering can feel a touch vague at freeway speeds but most of the time the Soul feels secure on the road. The brake pedal travel is a touch too long for my liking but I soon got used to it. The 2.0-litre petrol engine is not super frugal but nor is it a gas guzzler. It’s perky enough, without making a racket.
“Box cars” are still a relative novelty in Australia. I have no idea why. Their roomy layout is much more practical than regular hatchbacks and they look cool. Kia has blacked out the roof on certain colour combinations with the recent price adjustment, to give it a touch more flair. Consider a Soul if you want a roomy small car that stands out from the crowd. Just don’t pay $1 more than the $24,990 drive-away price. Metallic adds $550. You may be able to haggle on this.