Hi-tech, high-spec Kia has real Soul
- Credit: Archant
Kia's funky compact crossover might not look much different but there's a lot going on under the skin, says Matt Kimberley, of the Press Association.
At first glance, not a lot looks new at all. You need to put the new car beside the old one to notice the extent of the changes. This is actually an all-new car on a different chassis with a hefty system-wide upgrade. It's the Kia Soul v2.0.
The biggest news is the wealth of technology Kia has thrown at the new Soul. The mid-range model here has a fantastic 8in colour screen with bold colours and fresh graphics. It's clear and one of the best in-car infotainment screens.
That's just part of the new deal for the Soul. A host of higher-quality materials and nicely-weighted controls gives off a premium feel so convincing you'd think the price was a misprint.
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Apparently, the Soul is the most popular new car among American college students. There's a bizarre factoid for you but, to be honest,
it's no guarantee you'll like its looks. I do love the acid green paintwork though, and while the styling is a bit tweaky-tweaky samey-samey, the overall impression is of a chunky, solid little car.
Kia's image has turned on its head in the last seven years. Go on, admit it – there's already at least one Kia model you have a bit of a crush on.
Space and practicality
Starting at the boot(y), storage capacity is impressive if you stack your stuff like a Jenga champ. The curious thing is that there's a rail to support a second boot floor level with the boot lip, but you don't get an actual floor panel to put on it until you go to one of the top-spec trims.
Better news comes inside the plush and fantastically well-appointed cabin, where a seemingly endless supply of big storage compartments are on hand to swallow your daily oddments. So much so that you're likely to forget how much you've stored. Expect to occasionally lose things only to find them again via the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner.
Behind the wheel
Whether it's petrol or diesel power there's an overall sweetness and a sense of composure in the way the Soul drives, partly thanks to the new chassis from the Cee'd. It's instantly welcoming to a driver and I can see thousands of people being won over in the space of short test-drives. It's extremely likeable.
Not so good is the low-speed ride quality when potholes and manhole covers cast themselves rudely in front of your wheels. It's too firm, there are no two ways about it, and it really doesn't need to be.
Value for money
This diesel Connect Plus model is well priced at £17,500, but the bottom end of the scale will catch your eye. At £12,500 for the entry-level, but well-equipped petrol model, we're talking about a lovely car for an absolute steal. The top-spec Maxx model is equipped like a super-yacht, but at north of £21,000 is a lot of money for a compact car.
Who would buy one?
An American college student? Well, yes, but the Soul's talents extend all the way to motorway cruising and there will be loads of people for whom it makes sense. It's a really versatile, different-looking and spacious piece of kit that is all the car many people would ever need.
This car summed up in a single word – amiable.