- We like...Looks, price, warranty
- We don't...Not much
If you like your cars to be wacky, this new Korean-built baby-MPV will be spot-on for you. And it's practical, tooEver thought that too many cars are...well, samey and boring? Us, too. So it was a treat for us to find a car that’s bold and different. And it’s from the unlikeliest of sources... Kia. Yep, Kia, the brand responsible for the dull-but-cheap Rio small hatchback and the distinctly so-so Carens small MPV.
Climb inside its new Soul Burner, though, and it’s if you’ve picked the wrong door and stepped into the devil’s bathroom. The dash and seats are a riot of red and black, while the door speaker bins pulse with crimson light in time to your choice of music. Calming and restful, it ain’t.
But it is fun, a feeling underscored by the grey/silver tattoo-style decals that run across its black paint, and the red splashes of colour on its mirrors and grille.
If that isn’t for you, there’s also the Soul Samba (red body paint, a cabin that glows eye-smarting mauve at night) or the Shaker (cool beige outside, beige and brown inside with dog-tooth checked seats).
Aside from the crazy colourways, it’s a very practical little car. At just over 4 metres long, it’s only a little longer than, say, a Vauxhall Corsa. But there’s good space for five adults thanks to its upright, brick-like shape and deep, generous boot. Dial in practical 1.6-litre diesel or petrol engines, wieldy power steering and a high-set driving position that gives a cracking view out, and it makes a lot of sense as a value buy. As do (mostly) sensible prices, topped off by a five-year Kia warranty.
To drive, the Soul’s no tearaway. You get 124bhp is you pick petrol power and 126bhp if you go diesel. That’s enough to punt it along quickly, which ever you choose, while the suspension makes a fair job of keeping things tidy and level. But, although Kia says this is the first car to be tuned for UK roads, major surface changes and road undulations can catch it out. Mostly, it’s quiet and restful, although its tall screen ds catch some wind roar around its top when on motorways.
Of the two engines we’d pick the diesel for its extra low-revs, shove and its strong fuel economy. Its extra weight helps ‘glue’ the front wheels to the road, too.
Like most small cars now, the steering is electrically powered. That’s good because it helps improve mpg but, like others, it lacks the ultimate feel and kickback of mechanical set-ups. It’s pleasant and well weighted, though.
All Souls have top levels of kit for the money – remote locking, air conditioning and six airbags feature all-in on even the cheapest. Move up one from the most basic and the Soul 2 also has alloy wheels and wheel-mounted radio buttons. The Shaker and Salsa come next, offering their more involved decor for your extra cash plus nifty tricks such as (in the Shaker) a reversing camera that beams its picture to a screen built into the rear-view mirror. Top of the tree comes the Burner, with its crazy looks and an upgraded stereo that’s loud enough to hurt.
Should you buy one? Definitely, the Soul’s a sensible-shs car that likes a laugh, too. The queue to buy starts here...
- Engines1.6 petrol; 1.6 diesel
- Power124bhp, 126bhp
- 0-60 mph11.0secs, 11.3secs
- Economy43.5mpg, 5
- CO2g/km153, 137
- Insurance groups5
Motors.co.uk value verdict: