IN­SIDE INFO Model En­gine

Friday - - Motoring -

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.

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