2010 Kia Soul | road test

Posted on Aug 23, 2009 by

Gone are the days of cars being completely anonymous and unimaginative.

Enter the Soul. Looking slightly more boxy and hard-edged than the concept shown at last year’s Abu Dhabi Motor Show, the Soul is nonetheless quite a nice little ‘looker’ and unique in its category – CUV or crossover utility vehicle – showing an encouraging new direction for the South Korean manufacturer.

Built on a completely new platform, the exterior styling of the Soul is very trendy thanks to designer Peter Schreyer, who also brought us the original Audi TT. A trailing roofline enhances the wrap-around effect windscreen which appears to taper all the way to the C-pillar, while the front-end has an aggressive blacked out lower air intake (well, as aggressive as a cute runabout can be) and angular ‘circuit board’ inspired headlight clusters which set the Soul firmly in the 21st century.

2010 Kia SoulFor obvious production and realistic everyday motoring reasons the Soul has stepped down the 20-inch wheels of the concept to pretty reasonable 18-inch rubber on the current top-of-the-range EX model available in dealerships now. Although the standard rim on the LX is 16-inch and looks a bit impotent against the profile of the car.

The rear-end is a simple full-length hatch opening to a 546-litre luggage space which, with the rear seats flattened, increases to 1,500 litres – enough for two mountain bikes, apparently. Although, to be honest you wouldn’t want to risk damaging the interior of your Soul because it’s actually the most jolly part of the car.

There are four interior trims depending on how subtle or funky you want to appear. The standard graphite black ‘heat press knit’ seat material feels hardwearing and looks quite sporty, as does the read and black ‘Street Demon’ colour combination, while the ‘Soul glow’ upholstery features a luminescent ‘Soul’ logo in the backrest – if that’s your ‘thing’.

2010 Kia SoulOverall the Soul as standard comes equipped with a racy three-binnacle instrument cluster, driver airbag, sporty seating position and steering wheel, while the upper spec model also features a sunroof, 8-speaker sound system with iPod connection and sexy pulsating speaker lights.

 

 

There’s plenty of room for four large adults, some mixing decks, a pair of speakers and a small amp. But the best aspect of the Soul is that KIA offer you loads of customisation options, from sports-style wheel rims, rear spoiler and ‘Dragon tattoo’ body graphic, to sports pedals, front and rear skirts, and metallic fuel cap.

The only problem with all of this is that in performance terms the Soul can’t live up to its racy looks. Our test car was the 122bhp 1.6-litre CVVT four-cylinder engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox, the combination of which offers sufficient power for city cruising as well as average economy (7.4lt/100km) but under acceleration the engine screams and runs out of significant puff pretty quickly. Having said that, road-holding in this front-wheel drive crossover is confident considering the Soul has a high centre of gravity and 205mm front tyres.

2010 Kia SoulThe Soul will enter the marketplace at a graduation present level of Dhs52,900 and top of the range will sell for Dhs62,000, significantly undercutting key competitors such as the Honda Jazz and Suzuki SX4, while also giving the Skoda Roomster and Daihatsu Materia a run for their money.

With slightly wider rubber all round, the US-spec 2-litre engine (which may be introduced to the GCC as ‘phase two’) and a decent 5-speed gearbox (which is only available here as a manual at the moment), it could possibly offer up the excitement and driving fun that its visual character suggests.

2010

Price (AED): 52,900-62,000

Engine (litres): 1.6 four-cyinder

Max power (bhp): 122bhp @ 6,300rpm

Max torque (Nm): 156Nm @ 4,200rpm

Driven wheels: Front-wheel drive

Trim levels: LX and EX

Standard Safety Features: Reverse warning sensors, driver airbag, ABS, impact sensing door unlocking system

 

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