2014 Kia Soul review

  • New Kia Soul driven in the UK
  • Small SUV is rival to Renault Captur
  • On sale now, priced from £12,600

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As the extrovert SUV looks suggest, the new Kia Soul is intended to be fun, youthful and all things cosmopolitan.

It's based on the Ceed hatchback, so is wider and longer than its predecessor and, therefore, also slightly larger than the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. It's available with 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. Six-speed manual gearboxes are standard on both, although the diesel is available with an optional six-speed automatic (for £1500).

Prices start at £12,600 for the 1.6 GDi petrol in Start trim, while the diesel 1.6 CRDi is available only in Connect trim upwards, so begins at £16,400.

What’s the 2014 Kia Soul like to drive?

Pretty good. The 1.6 diesel engine has plenty of urgency at low revs and a broad spread of torque, meaning you don’t have to change gear too often around town. Even when you do, the light clutch and relatively accurate gearshift mean this isn't a chore.

Sadly, the 1.6 GDi petrol isn't so easy-going; it feels unresponsive at low revs and forces you to thrash the engine if you want to make good progress.

To say the new Soul is fun to drive would be stretching the truth, but it handles sharply enough There isn’t too much lean through corners, and while the steering always feels artificial regardless of which of the three steering weights you choose, it is at least fairly predictable.

In fact, the only real let-down is the ride. There’s enough initial forgiveness in its suspension to deal with big bumps (such as speed bumps), but the whole car fidgets around far too much over scruffy, rippled town roads. This gets pretty tiresome on town roads.

Refinement is merely average in both the diesel and petrol. The diesel is gritty-sounding much of the time, although you are relatively well isolated from engine vibration. The petrol, meanwhile, becomes noisy when revved, which you inevitably find yourself doing. The Soul's door mirrors also generate plenty of wind noise on the motorway.

What’s the 2014 Kia Soul like inside?

The cabin materials are vastly improved over the previous Soul. Everything from Connect trim up gets a leather-wrapped instrument binnacle and door panels (complete with contrast stitching) plus piano black trims to brighten up the dash and make it feel pretty lavish by class standards.

Headroom and legroom are excellent all-round, and there’s enough adjustment to the driver’s seat and steering wheel that most will be able to get comfortable, despite the slightly off-set pedals.

The new Soul has a bigger than a Renault Captur, although there’s a big drop to the boot floor over the lip, and folding down the rear seats leaves a sizeable step in the boot floor.

Entry-level Start trim gets 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a DAB radio, a USB-socket, audio controls on the steering wheel. Connect trim adds 17-inch alloys, a 4.3-inch colour screen, a reversing camera, and Bluetooth, but many buyers will opt for Connect Plus, which adds climate control, ups the speaker count from 6 to 8, and also features an 8.0-inch colour touch-screen, complete with sat-nav.

The system is a big step-up for Kia, with crisp graphics and a user-friendly interface. True, it’s a bit tricky to fathom some of the more in-depth audio settings, and the screen can be slow to respond at times, but otherwise it's bit of kit that many buyers will want and enjoy.

You'd be unwise to venture further up the range as this pushes the Soul into price territory it struggles to compete in. However, if you really value your toys then Mixx trim adds 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights and various styling tweaks. The range-topping Soul Mixx, meanwhile, goes one step further by adding a panoramic glass roof and keyless entry and start.

Should I buy one?

If you want a small car with SUV styling, and like the look of the new Soul, then yes. It’s roomy, classy inside and well-equipped, and while it isn't quite as cheap to buy as the rival Renault Captur, it's stronger resale values mean it shouldn't cost you any more to own over three years.

That said, the new Soul isn't as efficient as it should be – even the diesel model emits much more CO2 than most rivals and returned just 46mpg in our real-world economy tests, meaning that the rival Renault Captur 1.5 dCi will be much more frugal and cheaper to run as a company car. The Soul's choppy ride also disappoints.

The new Soul isn't perfect, then, but it's well worth considering. 

What Car? says...



Rivals:

Peugeot 2008

Renault Captur

 

Kia Soul 1.6 GDi Start
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £12,600
Power 130bhp
Torque 119lb ft
0-60mph  10.6seconds
Top speed 115mph
Fuel economy 41.5mpg
CO2 output 158g/km

Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi Connect
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £16,400
Power 126bhp
Torque 192lb ft
0-60mph 10.8 seconds
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 56.6mpg
CO2 output 132g/km

Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi Connect Auto
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,900
Power 126bhp
Torque 192lb ft
0-60mph 11.8 seconds
Top speed 110mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg
CO2 output 158g/km

 

 
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