Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 Kia Soul.
The Kia Soul has grown up. The second generation has dropped the ‘look at me’ teenager attitude for a more mature appearance and feel both inside and out.
First released in 2009, the Kia Soul was touted as the ultimate in funky, customized motoring offering a range of variants, engines and colour schemes to mix and match.
In 2014 the new Kia Soul has reverted to one model only, the Si, with one petrol engine on offer and the choice of a six speed manual or six speed auto gearbox.
It’s slightly heavier than the model it replaces, but also stiffer thanks the increased use of high tensile steel. The body shape remains essentially the same but is longer and lower and has a more masculine look about it.
The cabin blends high-grade materials with contrasting textures for a classier, more grown up look and like the original Soul, the cabin is remarkably spacious and supremely functional.
The new model boasts more space than the original with plenty of rear seat leg room and a huge cargo area, particularly with the rear seats folded flat. Noise levels have also improved, in fact it is whisper quiet inside with very little tyre roar or wind noise evident.
Powered by a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, it does at times feel a little underdone. Through the city it’s zippy enough and gets away from the lights with ease, it’s at higher speeds or with a load on board that it seems to run out of puff.
Developing 113kW and 191Nm of torque, the little 2.0 litre Kia needs to work hard and as a result fuel consumption is no real stand-out.
A round trip between Sydney and Wollongong saw a consumption figure of 8.7 litres per 100km.
It’s a smooth little power unit that revs freely and is hooked up to Kia’s own 6-Speed automatic gearbox, which adds a $2000 premium over the manual version.
The ride, tuned specifically for Australian roads, is a little on the firm side, but comfortable enough none the less. The firm ride does add to the feeling of stability in the Soul which is not easily unsettled by mid-corner bumps.
The steering isn’t the most communicative in the business but provides enough feedback for an enjoyable drive. Flex-Steer is also standard on the new Kia Soul allowing you to alter the steering weight with the choice of comfort, normal and sport modes.
Visibility is excellent and forward vision in particular is easier thanks to smaller A-Pillars, parking sensors are standard as is a rear view camera, although the display screen is rather small.
The seats are big and supportive and the new dash architecture, switchgear & steering wheel is attractive and logical.
There are plenty of standard features including Bluetooth for phones and audio streaming, a reasonable six-speaker sound system, climate control air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, a tyre pressure monitoring system and cruise control.
Kia expects to achieve an ANCAP 5-Star rating for safety and with a full suite of active and passive safety features, including electronic stability control, hill-start assist and vehicle stability management, front seatbelts pre-tensioners and six airbags, there is no reason to expect otherwise.
Like all Kia’s the Soul comes with an outstanding 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty along with a capped price servicing schedule.
The small SUV class is the fastest growing segment in the Australian market and is now a reasonably crowded domain with the Holden Trax, Mitsubishi ASX, Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke all competing for your dollars.
The good news for Kia is the new generation Soul is as good, if not better, than most of its competitors. The first generation Soul may have been a little too funky for its own good, but now with a more sophisticated look, refined interior and reasonable driving dynamics it appears that the Kia Soul’s time has arrived.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.0 litre 4-cylinder petrol developing 113kw and 191Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual or 6-Speed Auto (as tested)
Economy: As tested 8.7 litres per 100km Claimed 8.4 litres per 100km
Warranty: 5 years unlimited kilometres
Origin: South Korea
Price: $23,990 Manual, $25,990 Automatic