Road test: Kia Soul Connect Plus 1.6 CRDi
Here at Motor Writer, we have celebrated recent Kia design. It is a manufacturer which has made considerable effort to build attractive cars and SUVs and deserves much praise. However, there is still one model in the range which has elicited the broadest variety of responses when it comes to looks: the Soul.
Be it a supercar or hatchback, we press all review cars into general service and without exception, this second generation Kia Soul was immediately pointed up the A1, to a car launch in Yorkshire and then sent on various trips around the North West. With little time to dwell on its external appearance, the Soul soon showed its great all-round ability.
Neat and effective
This mid-specification Connect-Plus diesel model has been very hard to fault. Inside, the fit and finish is extremely good and the styling funky-enough to be interesting without being twee or irritating. Controls are all conventional and the central sat-nav/media interface is easy to use and very clear. Instrumentation is neat and effective and the positioning of the switchgear is spot-on. Of particular note is the commanding driving position; sufficiently elevated for a good forward view yet not too high to feel unwieldy. The six-speed ‘box fitted to our test car is a delight to use: light with positive selection. The clutch, too, is well weighted and adds to the enjoyment when working up and down through the gears.
Practicality and space are also strong points of the new Soul. The boxy, upright shape means there is ample room for front and rear passengers and the boot more than ample for a weekly shop and child clobber.
Driving hundreds of cars every year does two things to any motoring journalist. First, even the smallest flaws irritate because after over a century of motoring design and manufacture, there simply isn’t any excuse. Second, when a car has been designed well, it stands-out because so many excellent cars have at least a couple of niggles. Accepting that the Soul’s petrol engine is less exciting, the 1.6 CRDi diesel model has proved to be truly excellent.
We’d pitch the Škoda Yeti as the Soul’s biggest competitor; it is similarly pleasing to use, built to exacting VW-group standards and available with all-wheel-drive. That said, the Yeti is about £2k dearer (depending on specification) and lacks Kia’s seven year warranty.
What about the design, then? In Inferno Red, there is more than just a hint of Postman Pat’s van about the Soul. Okay, it is not pretty but in a sort of post-modern way, it is funky and functional. By the end of the week, the car’s visual cues became associated with this effective and well-made vehicle and we were certainly pleased to have it on fleet.
Kia Soul Connect Plus 1.6 CRDi, £17,500 (range starts at £12,600).
Power: 128 PS (@ 4,000 rpm), torque: 260 Nm (@ 1,900-2,750 rpm), emissions: 132 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 10.8 secs.
Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○Tweet