Meett your Soull matte
THOSE with a “hip to be square” outlook will be pleased to see that Kia did not sell its Soul to conformity when redesigning its smallest crossover vehicle.
Taking a design quantum leap from the already-daring firstgeneration Soul might have proved a bit OTT though, which explains why Kia has taken something of an evolutionary stroll with the new one, now on sale locally. Yet don’t be deceived by its familiarity – the Soul you see here has been completely redesigned and now shares a platform with the European Cee’d hatchback, making it more refined beneath the skin.
That outer surface, on the other hand, has a decidedly American west coast flavour as it was penned, likely between surf breaks, by Kia’s design team in California. The finished product puts a smoother spin on the original Soul’s boxy design, while also taking inspiration from the Track’ster concept.
Stepping inside a new Soul after the initial tyre-kicking session on the Gauteng launch revealed a surprisingly snazzy interior, complete with softtouch surfaces, contrast-stitching and piano-black garnishes in various places. There’s no shortage of offbeat touches, such as tweeters that appear to float above the dash top and circular sculpting in the door panels.
The new Soul is even more practical than before, having grown 20mm in length and 15mm in width. Those in the back have ample stretching space and the car’s tall stature means there’s plenty of headbanging room. The 354 litre boot is hardly gigantic, but should meet most buyer’s needs.
The new range offers a choice of three engines, with normally aspirated petrol options in the form of a 91kW/152Nm 1.6-litre, 113kW/191Nm 2.0 and a sole turbodiesel displacing 1.6-litres and pushing out 94kW and 260Nm. All three engines can be had with either manual or automatic transmissions, with six forward ratios in both cases, sending power to the front wheels.
I spent some time with the two most powerful versions on a route just north of Joburg and it
There’s a massive array of colour choices and contrasting roof with certain base colours
was the diesel that felt a bit less brawny than expected, although the autobox could be a factor here. Sure, it’ll climb a hill well enough or overtake at a reasonable pace if you work it, but it’s not exactly effortless. The 2-litre petrol, on the other hand, feels
quite sprightly despite its breathing disadvantage at altitude and the manual gearbox fitted to this car had a smooth and solid action. Both versions proved to be quiet and agreeable on the open road, but harsher road surfaces showed up a slightly firm suspension, although the ride is by no means uncomfortable.
There’s a massive array of exterior colours on offer and you can also order a contrasting roof with certain base colour options.
Depending on the engine and gearbox combination, there are three trim grades on the menu, all sold with a four-year/90 000km service plan and fiveyear/150 000km warranty.
The entry-level Start kicks things off nicely enough with a standard amenities list stretching as far as Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker audio system linked to a touchscreen with reverse camera, electric heated and folding door mirrors, air conditioning, six airbags and 17-
inch alloy wheels. The mid-spec Street hits the road with 18-inch alloys as well as leather seats, keyless entry and start, cruise control, climate control, rear parking sensors and ESC stability control. The range-topping Smart models are only available with automatic transmissions and over and above all the aforementioned features, these babies come with cruise control, electric driver’s seat and interior mood lighting with “music mode”. On the outside, it stands apart with HID headlights as well as LED daytime running lights and rear light clusters.
It just gets rather expensive at the upper end of the range, as you’ll see below.
PRICES 1.6 Start - R239 995 1.6 Start AT - R251 995 2.0 Street - R274 995 2.0 Smart AT - R315 995 1.6D Street - R299 995 1.6D Smart AT - R340 995