The new Kia Soul is the second generation of the successful crossover SUV that not only pioneered its class but also redefined the Kia brand as more ‘down with the kids’. The question is: has it got enough soul to cut it as one of the segment’s movers and shakers?
With the Crossover category getting more and more stuffed with talented rivals, Kia had to really pull out all the stops with this new model. The result is an improved, bigger, trendier and generally more sure of itself car that also boasts the option of Kia’s first all-electric motor.
When you first look at the new Kia Soul, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has changed, however if you look closer then you’ll see a car which has matured well with the times. Originally it’s funky ‘out there’ vibe was a breakthrough for the Kia designers and so had a kind of awkwardness about it. With the 2nd generation it seems to have gained….. well, more soul! It’s much more confident in how it looks, baring its funkiness with pride. The design still retains its quasi-military style tall, square cut shape with wide wheel arches, a purposeful front and a backpack shaped tailgate which integrates seamlessly with the tail light. It’s bigger with 20mm more length, 15mm more width and it’s 10mm lower.
Inside the cabin, the previously cheap and plasticky setup has evolved in the class stakes quite significantly – the quality is much better, with soft touch facings and snippets of leather trim, combined with the inclusion of an 8inch standard infotainment screen in the centre panel. Everything is easily reachable and there are plenty of places to keep things about the cabin. The view is commanding and there is loads of space owing to the Soul’s boxy, militaristic shape and a larger wheel base by 20mm. This is obvious in the back where the ‘plenty of head and leg room’ theme continues. The central transmission tunnel has also been reduced in size so that it’s less invasive to a middle seat occupant. All of this points this car out as a great passenger vehicle for this class. The boot space is 25% bigger than before with 354ltrs with the seats up, extending to a vacuous 994ltrs with the rear bench folded down – that’s 3x more cargo space than a Nissan Duke.
When driving the new Kia Soul, you’ll have to keep in mind that despite looking like a smaller version of a full on 4×4, it is about as useful across tricky off-road terrain as a Ford Focus, so it’s best to keep to the more conventional roadways. That aside, a lot of work has gone into improving the drive quality and dynamics. The springs are a bit on the stiffer side which help control the body roll (due to its high shape) and could appeal to some of the younger buyers. The body roll is more prominent when you push the Soul hard, which some might find a tad awkward with the very light electronically assisted steering. This should do very well for urban settings, but when driving elsewhere it might prove annoying. The way Kia have tried to counter this is by including a steering wheel mounted flex-steer system which allows you to alter the steering modes between comfort, normal and sport. The clincher here is that it tends to go too far in either direction, being stupidly hard or annoyingly soft, so you’ll most often find yourself driving in normal mode most of the time. This kind of defeats the point, so it’s fair to say that there is a bit of room for improvement here. That being said, the Kia Soul’s tight turning circle and great all round visibility make it an easy car to park (although the thick rear columns occasionally obstruct the view a bit) It also has to be said that the car is incredibly quiet compared to its predecessor.
Under the bonnet, it’s clear that they spent most of the time and money developing their first E.V electric model and as a result, the available 1.6ltr petrol and diesel units haven’t really changed much. They both reach 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds up to a top speed of 115mph. The difference here is that the diesel is much torquier – you’ll have to rev the petrol unit up to 5000rpm to get the best performance out of it.
As we previously mentioned, Kia have put most of the time and focus on developing the E.V electric model. It has a 27kw battery which handles 80-100 miles in driving range before needing to be charged up again. This is brilliantly realistic for once as they have done a good job perfecting charge regeneration, braking and throttle economy. It also comes complete with a dandy eco-mode which can be switched on to maximise battery range or turned off to ramp up the performance a bit. Depends much upon your priorities but it’s a good touch.
All in all, what have we got here with new Kia Soul? Well this is clearly the most colourful vehicle that the Kia brand produces. It’s a small, yet practical car with a big personality that will certainly pique the interest of some. The 2nd generation Soul is much more certain in its distinctive style and boasts more refinement, practicality, a much better finish and an improved driving experience. However much in the manner of marmite, you’ll probably either love it or you’ll hate it. But that was always the point of this car. Kia has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to others in the talented crossover segment.
If you want to lease or finance the new Kia Soul then don’t hesitate to leave us a message on our contact us page or give us a call on 01903 538835 to find out about our Kia lease deals.
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