Kia Soul review – a playful Soulmate

There are certain brandished around words that for some inexplicable reason I deem as ‘modern’, and to me ‘Soulmate’ is one of them. It’s an all encompassing term that seems to be widely overused and particularly rife in romantic situations. But apparently the term is not so modern after all.

‘Soul mate’ was first recorded in a letter poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in 1822 but the term resurfaced and gained romantic popularity from the 80’s onwards – nowadays it has evolved further still and everyone seems to have a bestie/soulmate combination – and even I found use for it when it came to the new Kia Soul …

The Kia Soul is an urban SUV with a big heart (1.6L turbo) and when dressed resplendently in clear white and inferno red duo – has a very sunny disposition (albeit with a little emergency vehicle slant).

Having won design awards, Kia have opted to tweak/update rather than revolutionise – which makes perfect sense. The ‘box-like’ appearance is both simple and effective, stylish on the outside and the offer of easy access to the interior. LED lights front and rear, electric high gloss folding mirrors with a ‘backpack’ tailgate that makes for an easy to load rear, while roof rails, twin exhaust pipes and 18” Alloys complete the picture.

The dimensions haven’t changed either, at a little over 4m in length and 1.8m wide with a 143mm ground clearance, the Soul easily handles the urban environment but will allow you a sneaky look at country tracks too.

The refreshed interior has a more modern and snazzy feel about it. The D-shaped wheel with contrast stitching has all the main necessities at your fingertips, pleasing to the touch and feels connected to the road when driving – which is helpful. Soft touch finishes and upmarket materials fill the cabin, the leather seats are both heated and ventilated and the combination air vents/speaker stack is really cool. The Soul’s 5”colour infotainment screen is clear and easy to use and there is heaps of driver and safety aids to keep you happy. Keyless entry, Blind Spot assist, lane change alert, Cruise control, reversing camera to name but a few.

There are times when you need your soulmate to give you space and the Soul sure has you covered in that area. It feels very roomy inside with an abundance of leg space for the rear passengers and it even has a false bottom in the (238/878Litres – Seats up/down) rear luggage area – so it will definitely keep your secrets.

Under the bonnet is a lies a 150kW/265Nm engine that will happily spin the front wheels but is relatively free of any torque steer issues. It feels strong under foot and at 6.9L/100km it will give you plenty of time to enjoy the drive before refills. The 7 speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) is a little on the erratic side though and I think that’s part of its personality. It will sometimes hold gears a little too long or jump to another one when your back is turned – let’s just call it playful.

I toyed with the Soul for several days and let it mingle with the family over the weekend – it fitted in nicely – exactly as a soulmate should. It was supportive and cheery, easy to drive (aside from a few gear selection issues) and felt very at home in the city. It went with us to the football and joined us at the cafe for lunch, you see, the KIA Soul is quite the companion. However, despite being easy to get along with, I did stop short of actually unloading my cares and worries to it when we were alone – maybe I’ll keep that experience restricted to just humans!

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