Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Bill Buys

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.

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