DRIVEN: Kia Soul – Bringing Back The Fun

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TODAY’S featured car is the Kia Soul, seen here in the well specified ‘Mixx’ trim. The original car first saw the light of day seven years ago and, I’m pleased to say, this current model is a huge step up from its predecessor. Under the skin it is basically a C’eed hatchback but has been given a
makeover to produce a fresh, modern vehicle that slots into the ‘crossover’ sector.

The Soul is clearly marketed at those who want something a little different and distinctive with its square design and it has appeal for all age
groups, I reckon. You’ll either love it or you won’t. Surprisingly, given that it appears to have all the aerodynamics of a brick and a half, it is quite slippery through the air and at speed there is very little wind noise making conversation easy at the legal limit.

OUT ON THE ROAD

There are two engines available: a 1.6L petrol and a 1.6L diesel which is the more economical of the two and is the engine in our test car. Personally, I would like to see a bit more than the 126bhp on offer but the engine offers a decent amount of torque (192lb/ft) so it’s the best one to go for unless you’re a low mileage driver. The petrol engine only punches out 119lb/ft so I would suggest, without having driven it, that it would take some goodly stirs of the gearbox to maintain sprightly progress. CO² is disappointing at 132g/km.

It is roomy and comfortable and Kia always make sure there is loads of useful kit as standard

There’s a very good reversing camera and big wing mirrors to help manoeuvring into tight parking spaces and it is important to use them because the thick rear pillars obscure a chunk of over-the-shoulder view. Parking sensors would help but to get them you have have to go to the range-topping ‘Maxx’ version which also brings a glass roof and some leather plus a heftier price tag.

The ride on the 18” alloys is firm (I like it as it is, but some might think a smaller wheel would increase ride comfort even more) and body roll is well controlled. It’s comfortable out on the roads and you always feel in control. The steering has feel and, joy of joys, has three different modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport all of which as the names suggest. I put it in Sport and left it there as I felt it enhanced the driving experience which I found easy and pleasant.

I averaged 38mpg from the diesel in mixed urban and main route driving. Kia states the Soul can deliver up to 56.5mpg but in the real world that I inhabit that’s not too bad an average. More abstemious drivers could no doubt eke out their gallon to over 40mpg.

INSIDE THE BOX

The interior of the Kia Soul Mixx is spacious with loads of headroom. There’s a fair amount of plastic on view but it’s good quality and with the
addition of the leather finish to the steering wheel and gear stick the inside has a premium feel. The neat and tidy dashboard is simplicity itself to use and all the controls are well laid out with the added bonus of steering wheel controls. As ever, there’s plenty of storage space, navigation, DAB radio, climate, Bluetooth, cruise; all the usual suspects in fact.

It’s the little touches. The speakers that sit on top of the round air vents at either end of the dashboard, the mood lighting that matches the beat from the excellent Infinity sound system and the very comfortable two-tone cloth seats with contrasting stitching; all things that add up to an airy, pleasant environment.

For the driver, the lofty ride height gives great forward visibility, ideal for urban motoring. Despite the chunky looks this car has no pretensions of being an butch off-roader – although I can see a case for a version with a simple on-demand 4×4 set-up to cope with our sometimes variable weather. The height also means access is easy for the less nimble person and there’s plenty of room in the back. The ample interior space does compromise the boot capacity however. It’s no better than a small family hatchback in this regard. Obviously it is fine for your everyday needs but, although the rear seats split, I can’t see that there’s room for a fortnight’s family luggage unless a roof box is deployed.

VERDICT

I like the Kia Soul Mixx very much. This version comes with some striking paint options. I especially like the way it looks and drives, although, as mentioned, it could do with a tad more performance. It is roomy and comfortable and Kia always make sure there is loads of useful kit as standard. Remember too that Kia offer a seven-year warranty on their cars and that’s not be be sniffed at.

If you want some leather and a glass roof then you can buy the more expensive ‘Maxx’ model. There’s also, less expensive, less well featured models if you’re after something basic. But the fact is that once you see and try the Mixx you’ll be spoiled for anything less frankly. For me this car comes in the three F’s category: It’s fun, it’s funky and it’s, erm, flippin’ good value at just under £20,000. If you’re in the market for a crossover why not make a different choice?

Geoff Maxted 
www.drivewrite.co.uk

 

 

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