Nearly a glowing review of the Soul turbo
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.