Let’s talk about the Kia Soul. The first generation Soul fitted in amongst the Toyota Ruckus and Nissan Cube. Bold, edgy and distinctively unique, the Soul was bursting at the seams with personality and customisation options, including speakers that light up to the rhythm of the music. Since its launch in Australia in 2009, the Kia Soul has developed a loyal following of buyers from a niche market, selling a total of 1779 vehicles. Now, with the launch of the second generation Soul, Kia has developed a more evolved and mature design, re-branding it as a cross-over vehicle; a mixture of the best elements of a hatch, wagon and SUV.
Distinctive styling has become synonomous with the Soul brand name, however the second generation aims to be as equally attractive for performance. Jeff Shafer, Senior Product Manager, sums up the Kia Soul as “blurring the lines between SUV, hatch and wagon” and emphasises that it “makes a statement while maintaining functionality”.
Adopting a ‘keep it simple’ approach, the Soul is offered in only one grade – Si. Powered by a 2.0L MPI petrol engine producing 113kW of power @ 6,200 rpm and 191Nm of torque @ 4,700 rpm. The Soul is available in 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic. On our drive program, we averaged 10.5L/100km – which is a little higher than I would have liked. The Soul also features Flex steer with comfort, normal and sport. My pick is definitely comfort.
The Soul still maintains its instantly recognisable exterior with a bold and masculine stance, 17” alloy wheels, vertically styled rear lamps, roof rails and mudguards as standard and a canopy style roof. The exterior is available in six colours including Acid Green, Inferno Red and my personal favourite, Titanium Silver. There is a distinct theme of circular shapes which is carried through to the interior. Sticking true to innovative styling – the side air-vents have integrated speakers.
The entertainment system consists of 6 speakers, a 4.2” touch screen, MyMusic with 800MB of storage, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX and USB inputs and MP3 compatible audio with AM/FM tuner. Thankfully Kia has updated to a touch screen however, I am still hanging out for them to upgrade to a much larger system in line with competitors. The steering wheel is so well laid out and the driver’s information dash is easy to read. The interior is spacious with a lovely mix of materials and trimmings.
The drive is incredibly quiet, smooth and stable, however it does lack a bit of torque at higher speeds. We did find that the Soul is well planted in corners and handles more sports-like than one would expect. Visibility has been significantly improved due to a reduction in the size of the A-pillar.
Storage space is dramatically improved with an extra 16L of boot-space which is extended to an extra 178L of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. There is also an abundance of storage throughout with side storage trays on the seats, the biggest glovebox I’ve ever seen and 8 cup/bottle holders. As always with Kia, safety is a priority with 6 airbags, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD & ESC (Electronic Stability Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), ESS(Emergency Stop Signal), reverse parking sensors, rear view camera with in-audio screen display & parking guidelines, dusk-sensing automatic headlamps and front fog lamps. There is also keyless entry.
The Kia Soul comes in at $23,990 for the manual transmission and $25,990 for the automatic*. Soul owners also benefit from capped price servicing, 5 year unlimited km warranty and 1 year roadside assist. The all-new Soul appeals to a broad range of buyers including the young at heart, small business owners and those who don’t want to settle for anything dull.