The previous Kia Soul was never a big hit, but the company hopes this all-new model will change that.
The funky looks remain, but the Soul is now based on Kia’s Cee’d, so it is longer and wider than its Renault Captur and Nissan Juke rivals, with more space inside. There’s also a completely redesigned interior and more optional extras to tempt buyers.
A lower stance and upgraded suspension are designed to provide a sharper drive and more comfortable ride, too. The Soul also shares the Cee’d’s engines, which means a choice of either a 131bhp 1.6-litre petrol or a 126bhp diesel of the same size.
What’s the 2014 Kia Soul like to drive?
The Soul hasn’t been designed to set any lap records, and that’s a good thing because the petrol engine has to be worked very hard in the low gears to make swift progress.
The diesel has more torque to call upon, so pulls harder from lower revs, but it still lacks the flexibility of the engines in the best rivals, so you find yourself changing down more often than you’d like.
Aside from a bit of buzz through the pedals in the diesel, both engines are relatively smooth, although become noisy when pushed. There’s also lots of wind noise around the Soul’s large door mirrors and tall windscreen at speed.
Sadly, the Soul’s handling isn’t much cop, either. Yes, body movements are fairly well controlled through bends, but the steering is disappointingly vague and inconsistently weighted, no matter which of the three Flexsteer settings you choose.
The good body control comes at the expense of a poor ride. Our test cars (all fitted with 18-inch alloys) responded badly to undulating roads with noticeable vertical movements, and felt fussy over patches of broken Tarmac and expansion joints at all speeds.
What’s the 2014 Kia Soul like inside?
Those in the front have a huge amount of head- and legroom and the driver has plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment. Kia has responded to criticism of the Soul’s interior quality, too, putting more soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and adding piano-black inserts around the cabin.
Our test cars all had Kia’s premium eight-inch touch-screen system that controls the sat-nav, radio and Bluetooth. It’s pretty easy to use and gets colourful, crisp graphics that are easy to understand, although the system in the Renault Captur is better still.
The Soul’s boxy dimensions mean headroom in the back is extremely good, especially when compared with a Nissan Juke. Six-footers won’t complain about rear legroom, either.
The Soul’s boot is a respectable 354 litres, which is smaller than that of a Renault Captur’s, but outclasses the Nissan Juke’s by more than 100 litres. The load bay is also a practical, square shape and gets a good amount of underfloor storage, but while the rear seats split 60/40 and fold, it’s shame they can’t be slid back and forth like a Captur’s.
Although full specifications are yet to be confirmed, the Soul line-up will kick off with Start trim, which gets (amongst other things) 16-inch steel wheels, a DAB radio and air-conditioning. Connect trim will add 17-inch alloys, a reversing camera and Bluetooth.
Connect Plus trim versions have sat-nav, a premium sound system and climate control as all standard features, while Mixx models will add 18-inch alloy wheels and exterior upgrades.
Range-topping Maxx trim models will add a panoramic roof, leather seats and keyless entry and start.
Should I buy one?
The Soul is more spacious than its closest rivals and has a cabin that looks and feels a little bit classier, too.
Furthermore, while prices haven’t been finalised, Kia expects that the new Soul range will start at around £12,600 and top out at around £20,000. The biggest-selling model (the petrol Connect Plus) will cost around £16,000. That means the Soul will undercut most of the like-for-like competition.
However, its ride and handling and refinement are some way behind a Renault Captur’s. The Renault has more practical interior touches, too, and offers more competitive fuel economy and CO2 emissions, making it cheaper to run as both a private buy or a company car.
What Car? says…
Specification 1.6 GDI
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £12,600 (est.)
Torque 119lb ft
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 43.5mpg
CO2 output 151g/km
Specification 1.6 CRDi
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from TBCPower 126bhpTorque 192lb ft0-62mph 11.2secTop speed 115mphFuel economy 58.9mpgCO2 output 125g/km