Squaring off with the styling
The Korean-made Soul conforms to the design brief within this segment and that is to be totally different from conventional modes of transport out there. Its exterior design is a blend of cubism design cues, Kia’s signature front grille and that rear section surrounded by piano black for that “floating” look. Throw in the big alloy wheels (18-inch on the test car), contrasting roof colour and you have an urban crossover that has appeal across a range of demographics.
Inside is slightly more toned down however, there are still elements inside that allude to the fact that this car is a bit of an extrovert. The word, “circular” comes to mind as the interior adopts a decidedly round theme. There is a decent amount of boot space (354 litres) as well as occupant space, while the quality inside is quite premium. There is quite a bit of road and wind noise though.
What do I get?
As with most Korean products there’s a quite a bit of spec as standard with chrome door handles, smart key and start button, instrument cluster with 4.3-inch TFT screen, chilled glove box, automatic air conditioning, leather seats, folding rear seat, centre armrest with cup-holders, rear parking sensors, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), HAC (Hill Start Assist) and VSM (Vehicle Stability Management).
Our test unit
I had what I believe to be the pick of the range in the form of the manual turbo diesel “Street” model. The 1.6-litre motor produces 94kW/260Nm and does exhibit some lag. The gearbox felt quite solid as I swapped through the six cogs quite effortlessly. The fuel consumption was perhaps not as low as I would have expected, with the claimed figure of 5.2 litres/100km and me only achieving 7.7 litres/100km during my tenure.
Is it fun to drive?
Driving the Soul with vigour isn’t exactly what it is intended for however, when the mood strikes it is nice to know that it exhibits sure-footed handling. The Kia MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering) system is also much improved in terms of feel and while you aren’t experiencing the most precise feel, it still inspires confidence.
At R309 995 for the model I had on test, overall, the Soul is a very good car. It’s spacious, well-equipped and unique. At the moment there is quite a demand for the Soul in SA with dealers struggling to get enough of them. Let’s hope they secure more units as the competition is stiff and the Soul certainly deserves sales success.
Warranty and service
The Soul comes with a five-year /150 000km warranty as well as a four-year/90 000km service plan.