e’ve been putting in the miles this month, giving our Kia Soul a good test on the UK’s motorways, with trips to Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham and Northampton, covering several hundred miles. While the Kia drives well in town, it’s a bit of a letdown on the long haul.
First, we’ve got an auto which delivers 0–62mph in 11.7secs, and the acceleration at higher speeds is limited. The road noise kicks in at about 55mph, which means either conversation is kept to a minimum or the kids’ music is blasting out. The seats don’t fare much better. My bufeted ears were only outdone by my numb back.
I’d expect a car in this segment to be more economical, but you only get a disappointing 37mpg against a predicted 47.1mpg for the new Soul’s diesel engine.
It seems our Soul is defnitely suited to urban driving – a good reason to stay in town in future.
W1582cc, 4cyl turbodiesel, FWD, 126bhp, 192lb ft 47.1mpg, 158g/km CO2 0–62mph in 11.7secs, 110mph 1557kg £21,550/£21,550 his month’s big question: is the latest Mini a goodlooking car? Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder – several apparently sane humans I’ve chatted to, for example, believe London’s Shard skyscraper to be a beautiful piece of architecture rather than gauche blasphemy of the landscape – but, after six months of staring at our Cooper, TG is qualifed to pass judgement.
And the judgement is this: it’s nowhere – nowhere – near as bad as we, and the rest of the world, feared it might be when the frst spy shots emerged of the MkIII car in 2013, spy shots showing a yellow car with a chin to put Jay Leno to shame. In fact, so unfattering were the spy shots, and so vehement the online response, that Mini’s PR machine felt sufciently moved to release a statement that they no doubt intended to read as ‘jovial fst-waving’ but only managed to achieve ‘sense of humour failure’.
“Relentless papping is something British celebrities have learned to live with,” read the release. “Absolutely unaware and without make-up, the youngest member of our family was caught by sensationalist photographers in a highly sensitive family moment...”
And so on for several paragraphs more of anthropomorphic weirdness. Those original shots transpired to be of the Cooper S, which wears a rather bolder front spoiler than the standard Mini One and Cooper, a bottom lip that gives it the look of a suferer of both chronic underbite and spadeface syndrome. Our car’s phizog is rather less challenging.
Still, the Mini is one of those cars that’s curiously colour-dependent. Bright shades,
TRoom in the rear for two, and exactly no more. New fve-door Mini has a three-seat rear bench to these eyes at least, seem to highlight the MkIII’s bulkier fanks, whereas dark colours, like the blue of our test car, help to shrink it visually. But no matter the paint job, there’s no question the newest Mini doesn’t manage the taut simplicity of the 2001 original (not to mention the 1959 original-original), instead resembling the ofce worker who’s piled on a few pounds but insists on wearing the same slim-ft shirts. (Obviously this is not an autobiographical simile.)
Tough gig for the Mini designers. BMW’s reboot proved an unexpectedly neat pastiche of the Fifties icon, leaving little in the way of wiggle room to evolve later generations. In truth, the MkIII doesn’t do a bad job in squeezing more room, tech and comfort into something still recognisably Mini-shaped. It’s prettier than the Shard, at least.
1798 Simon Carrington
Can the Soul hack it as an urban family runaround? REPORT 6 1499cc, 3cyl turbo petrol, FWD, 134bhp, 162lb ft 62.8mpg, 105g/km CO2
0–62mph in 7.9secs, 130mph 1085kg £ £15,300/£24,830 Total mileage 7206 Driver Sam Philip Why it’s here Is the original posh hatch still the best posh hatch?