Wheeling in . . . Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi ‘2’ Auto

The 2012 Kia Soul

The 2012 Kia Soul

The 2012 Kia Soul

The 2012 Kia Soul

First published in Car Reviews by

FOR some people a compact car that is practical, economical and reliable is just not enough. Some demand a liberal dash of personality.

It is for those demanding folk that the fun-to-drive Kia Soul was created.

Designed to have the charm of the Oxford-built Mini and the desirability of the funky Fiat 500, with the flavour of a 4x4, the Soul has been given a top-to-bottom freshen up for 2012.

A massive hit in the United States, which has taken more than 40 per cent of all sales worldwide, the Korean-built ‘urban crossover’ now offers increased performance with lower fuel consumption and improved emissions, six-speed transmissions as standard on all versions and a boost to interior quality and specification.

Kia says there are two main types of customer – lifestyle buyers aged 18-39 and the young-at-heart aged 45-60, who are downsizing from a larger car.

Priced from about £12,500, the Soul is a five-door, five-seat, front-wheel-drive hatchback, but the key advantage of its unusually high roofline and generous wheelbase is that it gives the interior a whopping amount of space.

Slip in behind the four-spoke steering wheel, with its audio control buttons, and the first thing you notice is the high driving position – a much-loved feature of larger sports utility vehicles and people carriers. The cockpit, with its clear three-dial instrument cluster, is compact and sporty.

Standard specification on all models includes air conditioning, all-round electric windows, remote central locking and six airbags.

The test car, which sat on 16-inch alloys, was powered by a 126 horsepower turbodiesel engine linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox, which replaces the former four-speed transmission. Also available is a new direct-injection petrol engine developing 138 horsepower – up 14bhp on the previous 1.6-litre.

On the move, the Soul is quiet and refined on smooth roads, and keeps its composure well on uneven surfaces.

Safety systems are comprehensive, ranging from electronic stability control to anti-lock brakes. For 2012, these safety measures have been supplemented by vehicle stability management, which uses sensors to detect when one side of the car is on a more slippery surface than the other and then intervenes to stabilise the car and hill-start assist control, which stops the car rolling back on inclines.

Goodies inside include a six-speaker audio system capable of being linked to digital music players or other portable music devices. Further up the range, the hi-fi grows to eight speakers, including a boot-mounted subwoofer and a dashboard centre speaker, powered by an external amplifier.

The revised model offers a choice of two regular trim grades, badged Soul 1 and Soul 2, and two ‘Soul Originals’, the Hunter and Quantum. All versions have Kia’s seven-year, 100,000 miles warranty.

Auto facts Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi ‘2’ Auto

  • Price: £15,795
  • Insurance group: 19 (1-50)
  • Fuel consumption (Combined): 47.9mpg
  • Top speed: 110mph
  • Length: 412cm/162.2in
  • Width: 178.5cm/70.3in
  • Luggage capacity: 12 cu ft
  • Fuel tank capacity: 10.5 gallons/48 litres
  • CO2 emissions: 155g/km
  • Warranty: 7 years/100,000 miles

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