KIA SHOWS UNIQUE SOUL
THERE’S NOTHING ELSE QUITE LIKE IT ON THE MARKET
KIA’S Soul must be one of the most underrated cars on the road, probably because a lot of people find it hard to break with convention and don't know what it is.
Neither hatch nor SUV, the cubic Soul is one of a kind. Well, actually two of a kind, because Toyota made a half-hearted attempt to copy it with its Rukus, which didn't quite live up to its name.
The Soul arrived a few years ago in three levels of spec and with a choice of two petrol and a diesel motor, manual or automatic. But that has now been pared down to one model: a 2.0litre petrol engine with sixspeed automatic transmission.
At $26,490, it's right up there in automotive cut-throat country but there's nothing quite like it, and as such it might appeal to people who want to drive something that doesn't look like what everyone else has parked in their driveways.
The latest model has a limited choice of colours, but they’re all two-tones and they look great.
There are quite a few changes inside and out, but the engine remains unchanged. It's a perky four-cylinder that produces 113kW and 191Nm and averages 8.4litres/100km.
The fuel economy is not particularly wonderful for its class, but it has more than adequate get-up-and-go, a bigger than expected interior, lovely finishing touches and lots of standard equipment.
A wide-angle reversing camera plus reversing sensors are part of the deal, as are satellite navigation, airconditioning, cruise control, auto-on lights and wipers, power windows, six-speaker audio with Bluetooth phone and music streaming, 17-inch alloys and a full suite of safety features.
The dash and door trims have been updated with stitched leather trim, the steering wheel has audio and cruise control functions, the dials and gauges are easy to read, and there's a small touch screen in the middle of the dash, which is flanked by a pair of smart tweeters.
Lots of plug-in sockets too: 12V power outlets as well as USB and AUX connections to keep the electronics fans happy.
The car is fairly tall, so it's easy for older folk with creaky backs to get in and out of, the seats are comfy, visibility is excellent and there's a lot of onboard storage: cubby holes, cup and bottle holders, underfloor hideaways and door pockets.
The boot holds 532 litres, which swells to 1402 litres with the back seats folded down
The Soul now has a much stiffer floorpan, uprated suspension and more insulation, resulting in better handling and a quieter ride.
Verdict: A definite headturner, the funky, classy and versatile Soul is anything you want it to be. We loved it.
Far from a samesame light car, the Soul has what its name suggests.