Nearly a glow­ing re­view of the Soul turbo

Taupo Times - - MOTORING -

The Soul turbo has lots to of­fer. But a sporty char­ac­ter isn’t on the list, says David Lin­klater.

The Kia Soul turbo is some­thing of a ‘‘nearly’’ car.

It’s nearly pow­er­ful and fast enough to have real warm-hatch char­ac­ter, but it’s not quite there. It’s nearly hi-tech enough to be a halo model for Kia, but it’s not quite there. The de­sign and spec­i­fi­ca­tion are nearly spe­cial enough to make it a genre-buster, but . . . well, you get it.

What the Soul turbo does of­fer is out­stand­ing value for money and pretty de­cent bang for your buck. At $37,990 the turbo is just $2000 more than the Soul Lim­ited 2.0-litre, yet it serves up di­rect­in­jec­tion tech­nol­ogy (GDI in Ki­as­peak), an ex­tra 38kW/73Nm and re­places the main­stream model’s con­ven­tional six-speed au­to­matic gear­box with a new seven-speed au­to­mated dual-clutch shifter.

Or put it this way: it’s the flag­ship of the Soul range, yet it’s $7000 cheaper than the en­try-level Mini Coun­try­man.

The Soul turbo is the first Kia model in New Zealand to fea­ture the dual-clutch trans­mis­sion, although it’s al­ready been seen in some Hyundai mod­els (as has the 1.6-litre turbo en­gine). It not only of­fers faster shift­ing than a stan­dard au­to­matic, it also as­sists the turbo to record a Com­bined fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure 1.1 litres­per-100km lower than the less pow­er­ful (and non-GDI) 2.0-litre.

So there’s some promis­ing tech­nol­ogy in there, but it doesn’t ex­actly re­sult in rip-snort­ing per­for­mance. The turbo gets to 100kmh in 7.5 sec­onds, which is brisk but de­liv­ered with very lit­tle brio. The dual-clutch trans­mis­sion is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing crisp shifts at open-road speeds, but too of­ten it feels in­de­ci­sive and long-winded in ur­ban driv­ing.

It’s an another piece to the Nor has Kia re­ally upped the game for the Soul turbo’s chas­sis. The ride im­presses and the cor­ner­ing stance is com­posed; but the steer­ing needs coun­selling for com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues no mat­ter what mode you select, and the sta­bil­ity con­trol can be ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic once the Soul’s high cen­tre of grav­ity makes its pres­ence felt.

The turbo rolls on hand­somelook­ing 18-inch al­loys and low­pro­file rubber – but the di­men­sions are ex­actly the same as the rest of the Soul range.

In­deed, put the pow­er­train aside and the key to the Soul’s ap­peal has al­ways been the peo­ple mover-cum-SUV blend of styling and prac­ti­cal­ity it of­fers.

But there are is­sues. The cabin looks great but the ma­te­ri­als are pretty low-rent in paces: go knock­ing on the dash­board and the re­sponse is pretty hol­low.

But the Soul is a prac­ti­cal and spa­cious thing. You sit high like you’re in an SUV and pas­sen­gers ap­pre­ci­ate the boxy shape when they’re trav­el­ling in the cheap seats.

There are a few spec­i­fi­ca­tion quirks to the turbo: it gets gas­dis­charge head­lights but misses out on the Lim­ited’s front park­ing radar (both have rear sen­sors and cam­era).

The up­hol­stery is leather/cloth com­pared with the full-hide of the Lim­ited – which you could ar­gue for on the ba­sis of sporti­ness/ sup­port. But the turbo also misses out on its lesser sib­ling’s vented seats – it gets heat­ing only.

Picky, picky. And we do like the Soul as a ba­sic con­cept. But given that the turbo stops well short of true sporti­ness and the Lim­ited has a smoother (if less ef­fi­cient) pow­er­train for ur­ban driv­ing, there’s a case to be made for stick­ing with that and sav­ing $2k.

New Soul turbo packs 150kW and is the first Kiwi-Kia to have a seven-speed dual-clutch gear­box.

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