In recent times there has been a push for car companies to come out with a design to WOW consumers. Something modern, edgy, fun and unique. We have seen the Nissan Cube and Toyota Rukus but by far the best of this movement is the Kia Soul.
Available in a range of different engines including a 1.6L petrol, 2.0L petrol and 1.6L Diesel CRDi, I was able to test the 2.0L petrol over the past week. This zippy little car is more responsive in it’s acceleration than one would think and produces 112kW of power @6,500rpm and 200Nm of torque @ 4,800rpm. While it’s no sports car, it certainly does give some other small Gen Y cars a run for their money.
It is worthwhile noting that while the 1.6L petrol and the 2.0L diesel come in both manual and automatic transmissions, the 2.0L petrol only comes in the 6 speed automatic (sportsmatic) transmission. Using around 7.5L/100km, the Kia Soul has fairly average fuel consumption, however the 2.0L petrol variant consumes the most fuel and emits the most CO2 (179g/km) of the range. The Kia Soul drives with fairly precise handling and ease and is a comfortable drive for something that looks as though it may be a little rough.
Now the exterior of this car is the thing that captures everyones attention and has been the talk of media for a while now. As I mentioned before, car companies such as Kia, Toyota and Nissan have tried developing something that is futuristic, modern, funky and appealing to younger audiences. Nissan’s Cube really failed with this and ending up looking more like a squashed milkman truck and had elements of bubble design, the Toyota Rukus was definitely an improvement, however its lines are far too harsh creating a squat look.
Kia has managed to create the Soul, which is an edgy new shape to the market, however has retained some of the traditional elements of exterior design such as contoured lines in the windows, a slanted not harsh straight line in the front windscreen and classic curves in the rear lights and front bumper. I urge you all to pull up photos of these three cars side by side and you will see the difference. Yet again, Kia has managed to hit the markets needs right on the mark.
Now we have established the overall design of the exterior, lets look at the specifics. I test drove the Soul+, the top of the Kia Soul range. This model is equipped with 18 inch alloy wheels, chrome radiator grille, front and rear tush bumpers, roof rails, tinted glass, body coloured from bumper, outdoor handles and side mirrors which are electronically adjustable as well.
Once inside the drivers seat is manually height adjustable and works well with an energy absorbing, leather wrapped, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel and drivers foot rest to create a relatively comfortable driving position. The special Soul shining seats are made of cloth and the drivers seat also has an armrest. When it comes to gadgets the Kia Soul+ has steering wheel mounted cruise control and audio control buttons, tachometer and 6 function trip computer. The interior of the Soul+ is completed with a metal trim on the center console and door handles.
Boot space in these small cars is always something of a concern however the Kia Soul is slightly better than average holding a 222L boot capacity expanding to a massive 700L capacity with the rear seats folded down. The boot also has a under floor tray with lid and rear cargo cover. Storage throughout the rest of the Kia Soul is very reasonable with a center console with power outlet, map pockets in both front and rear doors with a bottle holder in each, seat back pockets, twin cup holders and a 2 tier glovebox.
To appeal to a younger market, special attention needs to be paid to the audio system. The Kia Soul has AM/FM radio, USB/AUX input with iPod compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, Speed Dependent Volume Control, MP3 compatibility and 6 speakers. Now this sounds all very ordinary but the Kia team have something new. The optional audio package comes with speakers that light up. Yes, that’s right, your speakers will illuminate lights in beat with the song you are playing! Now find me another car that can do that! Pretty cool I think.
It’s not all just fun and games when choosing a car to buy, you also need to consider safety. With a 5 star ANCAP rating, the Kia Soul won’t let you down. It comes equipped with ABS, EBD, BA, ESC, TCS, HAC and VSM. The SRS airbags are placed in both driver and passengers, front side (pelvis and thorax protection) and curtain positions. The front seat belts have pre-tensioners and there is a seatbelt warning chime and light on all positions/ The Kia Soul is also equipped with anti-theft immobiliser, child proof rear door locks, impact sensing auto door unlocking, day & night rear view mirror, central locking with keyless entry and panic button and of course front fog lights.
While some may think the Kia Soul is a comical looking car, I think it’s innovative and pushes the boundaries of car design just enough, while still remaining appealing to todays society. It is jam packed with cool features and ensures maximum safety for all occupants. Its is reasonably powerful and fuel efficient and starts from as low as $19,990! So for those looking for a new car, be sure to check out the Kia Soul range for a unique, quirky and fun loving car.