Kia dares you to be dif­fer­ent

New turbo diesel Soul comes packed with good­ies and power

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN

FOL­LOW­ING its un­veil­ing at the Paris Mo­tor Show in Septem­ber 2016, the Kia Soul is this week at last on sale in South Africa.

While wildly pop­u­lar in Cape Town’s newer suburbs and al­ways a head-turner at the Am­bers in How­ick, the Soul has not ca­pu­tured the soul of most KZNn­ers.

The new model fea­tur­ing a num­ber of de­sign up­dates and a new turbo diesel, en­try-level model may just change that.

For make no mis­take, this lit­tle up­right cross­over has long es­tab­lished it­self as a car its own­ers have no com­plaints about. The Kia Soul has topped its seg­ment in the an­nual J.D. Power Ini­tial Qual­ity Sur­vey in the U.S., first reach­ing the top spot in 2012, and re­tain­ing that po­si­tion ever since then.

Kia South Africa de­scribes the Soul “as the ul­ti­mate anti-es­tab­lish­ment cross­over, de­fy­ing tra­di­tional clas­si­fi­ca­tion by of­fer­ing the space and prac­ti­cal­ity of an MPV and the qual­ity and fea­tures of an SUV, wrapped in the di­men­sions of a B-seg­ment cross­over”.

As owner of the orig­i­nally fugly Fiat Mut­li­pla that did all this first — and with a lot more anti-es­tab­lish­ment de­fi­ance — I can only say “ja well no fine”. But the Soul does have, well, soul un­der its skin. A WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year semi-fi­nal­ist in 2015, CAR Mag­a­zine also de­clared it a “Best Buy” in their 2016 Best Buys sur­vey.

“In a mar­ket of mun­dane crossovers and smaller SUVs, the Soul has al­ways been able to pro­vide some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent and stand out,” says David Si­eff, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, Kia Mo­tors South Africa. “As an al­ter­na­tive, the Soul gives con­sumers a great way to ex­press them­selves in a prac­ti­cal and funky way, but with all the fea­tures and the qual­ity peo­ple ex­pect from Kia.”

The new tur­bod­iesel Kia Soul 1.6 Start pro­duces 94 kW and 260 Nm of torque be­tween 1 900 and 2 750 r/min. This en­gine mates to a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, with no au­to­matic op­tion avail­able.

Even at the en­try level the Soul fea­tures a com­pre­hen­sive list of stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in­clud­ing a ra­dio with RDS, MP3/Aux/USB jacks, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and six speak­ers, cen­tral lock­ing, an im­mo­biliser, a rear-view cam­era, elec­trochro­matic rearview mir­ror, elec­tric win­dows front and rear, elec­tric heated side mir­rors with in­te­grated in­di­ca­tors, and a leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel.

Safety fea­tures in­clude ABS brakes, six airbags, an im­pact-sens­ing door un­lock func­tion. All mod­els ship as stan­dard with Kia’s fiveyear or un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty, a five-year or un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre road­side as­sis­tance as well as a fouryear or 90 000 km ser­vice plan.

Gary Scott, sales di­rec­tor and deputy man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Kia Mo­tors South Africa said, “At R329 995 it rep­re­sents ex­cep­tional value, and a quick test drive will more than con­firm its virtues.”

In the quirky cars seg­ment, which is piti­fully small in SA, the Soul com­petes with other mis­fits like the Ford BMax, sell­ing from R 325k and the Hyundai Creta, listed from R 319k, but it is the most mem­o­rable.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

Kia has bol­stered the quirky Soul’s lo­cal line-up with a diesel en­gine that looks to have the goods, and while the in­tro­duc­tory price of R329 995 lasts, this rep­re­sents com­par­a­tively good value in the cross­over seg­ment.

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