Kia’s soul-searching for inner space

The Soul put new heart into the conservative Kia range says, Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

Engines – From launch there was a straight choice between petrol and diesel. With the Soul viewed by many as an upright compact hatchback, low-miles motoring should make petrol the preferred option. Those looking to travel further might wish to choose diesel power, although it can't match European rivals for refinement or economy.

Exterior – A radical departure from the more conservative offerings from Kia, the Soul's boxy exterior hides a spacious interior. One of a growing number of urban multi-purpose vehicles, it caters for buyers seeking the footprint of a regular city hatchback but one offering more practicality.

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Interior – With its lofty driving and seating positions, the Soul is not like your average compact hatchback. That said, the car's various controls and displays will be familiar to fans of the Kia brand. Occupants are surrounded by reasonable quality materials, with the emphasis on durability understandable given the car's family-centric audience.

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Driving – Kia isn't famous for producing cars for keen drivers and the Soul is no different in this respect. The car's suspension is a little on the firm side, which can be an issue around town, although it does ensure that body roll is kept in check. The various engines deliver adequate levels of performance, but the focus is clearly on measured progress despite the car's youthful, racy-looking appearance.

Ownership – As a five-door, high-rise hatch the Soul offers buyers a competent urban car experience with the ability to confidently go beyond the city limits when needed. Its modest footprint ensures that parking is rarely a problem and the lofty driving position is a nice touch. Modest running costs and a good level of standard equipment.

What to look for – Being a family car, check the interior for the usual damage – cracked trim and marked upholstery. The exterior also warrants examination as parking dents, stone chips and kerbed wheels are all potential hazards associated with a tough urban life. Being such a new car there's no excuse for a patchy service record, and it's also essential to take a test-drive to establish that everything works.

Model history – 2009, Kia launches its urban crossover, the Soul. The upright compact five-door hatch was offered with a choice of small capacity diesel and petrol engines plus a good level of standard equipment. Initially good value five-year warranty later updated to Kia's across-the-board seven-year plan for added peace of mind.

Reasons to buy – Good warranty, looks, interior space, reliability.

Reasons to beware – Not a driver's car, lots of conventional alternatives.

Pick of the range – Soul 1.6 2.

What to pay – 2009 09 �6,500; 2009 59 �7,025; 2010 10 �7,800; 2010 60 �8,275; 2011 11 �9,250; 2011 61 �9,650. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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