2012 Kia Soul diesel Review

2012 Kia Soul Road Test and Review…

Kia gets an A for effort but disappointingly only a C for execution with the Soul. Sadly, the Soul gives no compelling reason to choose it over its very impressive sister the Rio, or any number of other quality small cars available.

It’s not that the Soul is a bad car; it just lacks substance underneath the attention grabbing external styling.

The Soul range starts at $21,490 and that gets you a model with the 1.6 litre petrol engine and a five speed manual transmission.

$26,990 gets you the 2.0 litre petrol engine which comes with a six speed auto.

Spend another thousand dollars and you can get the diesel Kia Soul with a manual transmission, $29,990 gets you the auto version.

So the question is which engine to get?

The data shows the 1.6 petrol delivers 95kW and 157Nm and uses a combined 6.5L/100, the 2.0 petrol returns 122kW and 200Nm and uses 7.5L/100, the diesel boasts 94kW and 260Nm and uses 5.9 L/100 combined.

To be honest all three engines have their pluses and minuses and I don’t know which one I would choose.

The 1.6 (which I haven’t driven) looks pretty dire on paper, the 2.0 (which I drove last year) provides good acceleration around town but the urban consumption figure is 10.0L/100 – pretty thirsty for a car this size.

The diesel is a bit sluggish at low speed and I averaged a just passable 8.0L/100 in the city.

If you’re doing a lot of highway trips it would be the pick though with plenty of low-down grunt, but whether it’s worth paying the additional up front cost and the on-going higher price for the fuel is up to you.

So there really isn’t a clear winner I’m afraid, maybe the 1.6 petrol is a happy medium?

On the road the Kia Soul displays an unsure and unsettled feeling, this is no doubt exacerbated by the body shape (i.e. crosswinds give it a hard time) and quite sensitive steering.

Despite that the Soul handles the corners all-right when pushed a little harder, the 45 series low-profile tyres however contribute to an uncomfortably firm ride.

The Soul pulls up nicely but beware the brakes are quite grabby when they are cold, worse still in the Soul I had the brake pedal was quite wobbly!

Inside the cabin is where the 2012 Kia Soul disappoints the most.

While the external styling is cool and funky the inside is drab and boring.

There’s hard plastic everywhere, the seats are only slightly softer than a park bench, the steering wheel and arm-rests are hard, and I found I just could not get comfortable in the driver’s seat.

Cabin storage areas are small, legroom is average up front; poor in the back, and the boot space is nothing to write home about either. If you’re a basketball player however you will enjoy the generous headroom.

Other positives include Bluetooth connectivity, a very nice sounding stereo system, leather wrapped steering wheel and transmission selector, tilt and reach steering adjustment, cruise control and a trip computer.

The dashboard is quite nicely laid out too and the gauges are clear, though very dated when compared to the modern styling of those found in the Rio.

The most damning indictment of the Soul however is that you can’t have either satellite navigation or a rear reversing camera, even as an option – very disappointing.

On the safety front its full marks with the Soul delivering a 5-Star ANCAP rating.

Summing the Kia Soul is up is difficult, I respect the fact that it has a bit of personality (on the outside) but in the fair-dinkum stakes there’s no way you could choose it over a Rio or any number of other quality small vehicles that are better priced and better equipped.


Engine: 1.6 litre turbo diesel delivering 94kW and 260Nm

Transmission: Six-speed auto or six-speed manual

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: Five years

Origin: South Korea

Price: From $29,990

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