Kia Soul review – Telegraph

28 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Kia Soul review – Telegraph

Kia’s funky new urban crossover supermini made Angus Frazer smile.

Have you heard the one about the retiree who went out to buy the Porsche he’d always promised himself, but drove home in a Kia instead? The reason, claimed the Kia spokesperson telling the tale at the launch of the company’s new Soul crossover supermini, runs as follows: When you get to the age of 60 and beyond you can still get into a Porsche. But you can’t always get out again. With our new Soul, you sit up nice and high.

So you’ll have no problem getting in, or out.

It got a laugh anyway and while the teller’s tongue may have been firmly in cheek, Kia is serious about its new model. The company may have trotted out the tired old lines about the Soul being suitable for sporting lifestyles and appealing to the young and the young-at-heart, but it at least has something fresh and original to promote.

Designing a dramatic show car is all very well, but too often the legislative process and the practicalities of production see most of the magic float away. Not this time. Peter Schreyer, Kia’s chief designer, says the Soul will be the first Kia where people will check the colours, trims and accessories before they check the price.

There’s plenty to admire. The swept-back roofline and the glass tapering make the Soul look like a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet on wheels. Happily, the front face doesn’t do cute either.

Other distinctive features include butch-looking wheel arches well filled by 18in alloy wheels and a distinctive rear end with boldly defined combination lights and tailgate lines.

Kia describes the Soul as an urban crossover and makes hopeful comparisons to Nissan’s Qashqai. Like the Sunderland-built Qashqai, there’s a whiff of off-road toughness to the Soul’s looks, but it is front-wheel-drive only. It feels closer in spirit, and size, to the Nissan Note and the Skoda Roomster.

Although Kia has a hybrid version under development, when the Soul goes on sale in March it’ll be relying on plain old petrol and diesel power. A 1.4-litre petrol engine will eventually join the line-up, but the Soul launches with a 122bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 126bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel. The diesel’s CO2 of 137g/km and 55.4mpg fuel economy hardly threaten the MINI Clubman Cooper D’s 109g/km and 68.9mpg, although Kia will introduce fuel-saving, CO2 reducing stop/start technology by mid-2009.

While the turbodiesel has reasonable mid-range punch, neither engine feels match-fit for being laden to the gunwales on high days and holidays. In addition, the petrol engine’s initial throttle response feels less than perfect, making the car hard to pull away smoothly in and easy to stall. Happily, the standard five-speed manual gearbox feels fine and the brakes are good.

There’s enough verve to the Soul’s handling to inspire confidence in city traffic. Acceptable body control and reasonable turn-in to corners make it fun enough on country roads, even if the steering is numb. Motorway stability suffers in strong crosswinds and a constant drone is heard from the top of the windows.

The Soul’s biggest problem is the ride, at least on those big 18in wheels. On rough roads it thumps enough to make Kia’s fictional pensioner wish they had opted for the Porsche.

The petrol version is smoother than the diesel, and Kia swears comfort improves further with the 15 or 17 in wheels also on offer.

Prices will start around £11,000 and rise to £15,000. Kia plans to offer a cheap base model along with a better-trimmed volume seller. In addition, a Soul Collection will offer a number of unique models on sale for limited periods, each featuring dramatic exterior and interior treatments and reflecting different themes.

While the plain black interior of our test cars hardly reflected the vast array of optional funkiness that will be offered, the small, tricky-to-open dashboard cubby and the reasonable size, double-layer glove box did feature bright red interiors. However with narrow door bins and a small boot, stowage solutions are far from revolutionary.

While the split rear seats can be folded almost flat and the boot floor lifted to allow access to additional stowage, the Soul doesn’t feel as roomy or as practical as a Nissan Note.

The dashboard plastics are far from soft but they at least feel hard-wearing and there is a generous amount of front and rear space, which allows four adults to travel in comfort.

Kia’s new small car is not perfect, but it certainly has character and is easy to like.

Price/availability: from about £11,000 (1.6-litre petrol in entry trim) to about £15,000 (1.6 turbodiesel in top trim). On sale March 1, 2009.

Engine/transmission: 1,591cc four-cylinder petrol with four valves per cylinder; 122bhp at 6,300rpm and 115lb ft of torque at 4,200rpm. 1,582cc four-cylinder turbodiesel with four valves per cylinder; 126bhp at 4,000rpm, 192lb ft at 2,750rpm. Five-speed manual gearbox (four-speed automatic optional with diesel engine), front-wheel drive.

Performance: 1.6 petrol: top speed 110mph, 0-62mph in 11.0sec, EU Urban fuel consumption 42.8mpg, CO2 emissions 153g/km. 1.6 diesel: 113mph, 11.3sec, 55.4mpg, 137g/km.

We like: Exterior styling, estimated price, seats, passenger space.

We don’t like: Lousy ride comfort, small boot, wind noise.

Alternatives: Ford Fusion, from £11,549. MINI Clubman, from £13,950. Nissan Note, from £10,345. Nissan Qashqai, from £14,349. Skoda Roomster, from £9,845.

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