KIA Soul MY15 1.6 CRDi Maxx
Soul II Soul.
Micro SUV’s have been making a splash here in the UK for several years now, with the Nissan Juke the most obvious example. Back in 2008, KIA launched their own micro SUV in the form of the Soul & despite disappointing sales – just 3000 in 2013 – have relaunched it as a larger more grown up model; it’s 20 mm longer, 15 mm wider & 10 mm lower. It now shares it’s platform with the KIA Cee’d but retains the boxy look that first made it stand out on the launch of the original.
There is a growing plethora of contenders in this category with the Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur & shortly the Fiat 500X all competing in a market worth 50,000 plus units per year. This means that each competitor needs to stand out in order to attract customers & the Juke which I always think looks like a bulldog that’s crashed into a wall, leading the way, with 37,500 sales in 2013. And, the new Soul certainly does that with a retro-Kei car look that’s copied a lot from the Nissan Cube & Daihatsu Move, as well as offering an almost American Graffitiesque West Coast 1950’s look all of it’s own.
It’s certainly boxy, but where the first Soul always felt a little too boxy ( is that possible ?) the Mk2 has been finished in a more attractive fashion. The rear light clusters are larger & prevent the rear of the car looking quite as flat, whilst on the front there is a Lexus-like protruding grille, 18″ alloys, black high gloss A Pillars, shiny black plastic wheel arches & sills, part of an Urban Styling Pack finishing off the look. The Maxx also comes with chrome door handles, body coloured mirrors, tinted glass, rear window & tailgate privacy glass, projection headlights, front fogs, LED daytime running lights & combination lamps, & electric folding door mirrors with LED indicator lights.
Climb inside the cabin & the quality has also vastly improved. My top of the range Maxx model came with a panoramic roof which really makes the cabin feel bright & airy. The redesigned dash offers more modern switchgear with deep-set TFT dials are also a big improvement over the Mk1. Add in an excellent touch-screen navigation with a high-end DAB audio system, a reversing camera, steering wheel mounted controls which include cruise control, an easy to connect Bluetooth hands free system & a clear & concise Sat Nav system & the Soul is now class leading. The Maxx also comes with heated leather front seats, with leather in the back as well. A Smart key with illuminated Start/Stop Ignition button makes getting into the Soul at night easy, with the lights going on every time I took the dog out at 10.30 pm as I walked past the parked car with the Soul keys in my pocket.
The Soul is safe to, with all models fitted with ABS, EBD & BAS, ESC, VSM, Hill start control, a tyre pressure warning system, emergency stop signaling, twin front, front side & curtain air bags. There’s also a choice of three steering modes, normal, comfort & sport modes. I tied these out & to be fair, I couldn’t find a difference. With thinner A-Pillars, visibility is better than the old car & thanks to the 20mm longer wheelbase there’s enough room in the back for adults to sit comfortably, although the middle seat is narrow and the rear seats don’t slide there’s just a traditional 60/40 split/fold set up. On the plus side, boot volume has grown to 354 litres, the tailgate is wider and there’s a handy under floor storage area which is great for storing moveable shopping such as jars, bottles & milk containers after a trip to the supermarket.
Out & about the Soul drives pretty well around town with a big improvement over it’s predecessor & with a 29 per cent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the outgoing car & upgraded sub-frame bushings, it’s better to drive and more refined. On the motorway with four adults & a dog it ticks over quite nicely at 70 mph & with cruise control selected is a comfortable way to drive from A to B. The larger boot means it’s also more practical as I found with a visit to Makro.
The Soul range disappoints in only two areas, firstly with it’s emissions, with the model I was testing the best in the range at 132g/km & it’s fuel economy with the 1.6 CRDi I tested offering a combined economy of just 47.1 mpg. The Soul sells brilliantly in the USA & plainly over there where fuel is about half the cost we pay in the UK, it’s average performance in these two categories coupled with the predominance of petrol over diesel, isn’t such a big issue, but over here some company car drivers will not even be able to specify a Soul because of this.
Whilst the Soul Mk2 really impressed me with is cute looks & drive ability, it is let down by it’s engines economy. Similar to my favourite Kia the Optima, Kia have decide not to sell the Soul in the UK with a sub 100g/km CO2 model which I think is a great shame. If they did I think they’d sell an awful lot more Souls than they have done so previously. It’s great value for money, my top of the range model with all the goodies costing just £21,550, looks great & stands out from the crowd.
It’s got Soul but it’s not a Soldier 3/5.