Dropping by Kia to pick up the keys to the new Kia Soul was an interesting experience. Having seen one from the outside I expected a rather quirky car, seeing them drive by you had to assume things about the car. It was time to find out what it was really like to live with a Kia Soul for a week.
Painted in red with a black top the Kia Soul has a rather cool style to it. It does look a little boxy in some areas but curved lines keep that illusion from sticking. It sits higher than a regular car yet not to the point you need a ladder to get in. Unlocking the doors to the Soul, you’ll find you’re actually able to slide straight in, you don’t drop into the seat or climb onto it, it’s at that ideal height that requires no effort, even after “leg day”.
With no start/stop button you’re forced to insert the key as though it is a retro thing to do now and a short twist springs the 2.0L engine into life. I begin to look around the car as the air-conditioner starts to cool me and the car down. The cloth seats are comfortable and offer a decent amount of support. The stereo is simple and friendly, then I realise a couple of things, no CD player, no Sat-Nav and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This is a little basic. Fortunately with bluetooth and USB ports I am able to stream music from my phone and use Google Maps if I must. Looking at other areas of the car I immediately love the speaker configuration at the front which looks like slightly raised discs. The next noticeable thing is the biggest thing, the headroom. The space. The vast amounts of space. I feel like I could stand up in this car and not touch the roof. There is lots of air in the cabin, like when you played “cars” during school holidays by putting dining chairs in a row, that feeling of room is evident. Putting the car into reverse and seeing the reverse camera kick in, we leave the dealership.
On the road the Kia makes full use of the 2.0L engine, it can get a little noisey as it reaches for more power on an incline when dropping one or two gears. The Kia Soul doesn’t have a turbo to assist in propulsion so the gearbox and engine pump away as best as they can. The Soul is immediately simple and sturdy, it obeys your commands, doesn’t feel the bumps a traditional hatchback would and just gets you there. It feels safe to drive, especially being slightly higher than some cars, yet not to the extent that you feel you’ll ever tip over.
The ride height is enough to keep you driving confidently above kerbs, down driveways, over speed humps etc without ever scraping the car. We even take it slightly off road because we’re safe knowing it won’t bottom out underneath, it won’t handle rough terrain as it isn’t 4WD but it doesn’t mind hitting the grassy areas of a park for example. Fuel economy during our tests were not bad, we averaged 8.8L/100km during our week of testing.
Opening the rear boot seems like an event, it’s a large boot door but not exactly revealing a large storage area. It would fit a large luggage bag, on its side before you’d be forced to fold the rear seats down. What we did like however was the underfloor storage in the boot, handy for smaller items that will travel with you.
The Kia Soul has a very short options list, in fact, the red paint is the only option. This car then is fully equiped and we’re left wanting more. The foundations of this car is great, a model with some more creature comforts and perhaps a bit more zip would see this evolve into something outstanding. While the lack of some common features such as keyless entry or automatic wipers are missing, it doesn’t exactly make the car cheap. As configured (with the optional red paint) the Kia Soul would be $29,525 driveaway. At that price you’ll be comparing it to Mazda CX3 and Suzuki Vitara as a start, what neither manufacturer will offer except Kia though is a remarkable 7 year unlimited kilometre warranty and that is very comforting.