INSIDE INFO Model Engine
more grown-up, but retains that cheeky character. Its large trapezoidal lower air intake is almost a direct carryover from the concept, as are the fog lights.
The signature ‘tigernose’ grille has been reworked to mimic the concepts too, and like most new cars, this one also gets the LED treatment. It still sits with an upright stance, with those squared shoulders and high-mounted taillights; the edgy design helped it stand out from the others the first time around, and that remains the case.
Customisation was a big part of the Soul’s success – it explains why eight different wheel designs and an assortment of new colours can be had. Our tester rides on 18in alloys with red accents that contrast well with the ClearWhite paint and black roof.
The cabin is far more premium been improved by 4.0mm and boot space has grown to 354 litres (994 litres with the rear seats folded).
As for the leather seats, they have larger bolsters on the cushion and backrest, but the standout feature is the panoramic sunroof. It gives the cabin a light and airy feel, while the reversing camera and 4.3in screen is a nice touch – even though parking is hardly a tricky affair given the Soul’s diminutive dimensions. choice of two engines are available; 1.6- and 2.0-litre direct-injected fourcylinder units. Ours has the latter, producing 164bhp – the same as the outgoing model. Though horsepower may not have increased, it’s a smoother motor now thanks to an offset crankshaft that reduces friction and a low-noise timing chain. However, it’s able to deliver more thrust at lower rpm, making it feel peppier and more enjoyable to drive. A manual would have been nice, as the six-speed auto isn’t the snappiest. As a result, the front-wheel drive Soul reaches 0-100kph in a lazy 10.2 seconds. You won’t be dragging this, but no complaints about its fuel economy; it sips 7.6 litres per 100km.
Sport mode allows more driver involvement, but even then, the cogs don’t really change with much urgency. That said, it runs around happily enough with the MacPherson strut front suspension and coupled torsion beam axle at the back (unchanged from the first generation) keeping the ride smooth.
It’s a soft set-up and there is some body roll to contend with, even though Kia says it has a 29 per cent stiffer chassis than the outgoing model, but that doesn’t really translate on the road. You won’t want to flog this, but it handles well enough, while the electric power steering’s been recalibrated, offering decent feedback. What’s more, the Soul delivers the highest safety standards in its class.
If you’re after a solid yet quirky ride, then this won’t disappoint. It’s bound to sell even better than the first generation, meaning there’s a real likelihood there’ll be a third. That’s good for heart and soul.