Kia Soul hatchback
Price £12,800 - £29,995
- Better-looking than previous models
- Spacious interior
- Well equipped as standard
- Limited engine range
- Noisy engine
At a glance
“With a muscular look and plenty of interior space, the Kia Soul looks great inside and out.”
Having divided opinion with its boxy looks when released in 2008, this latest Kia Soul is more in line with the other stylish compact SUVs on the market.
There's no doubt, though, that the standout feature is the amount of space offered for people and luggage. Although its design is based on the one of Kia's space-age concept cars, the second-generation Soul can credit its plentiful space to being based on the same underpinnings as the Kia Cee’d.
The five trims on offer range from the self-explanatory Start to Maxx. For less than £13,000, the entry-level Soul includes keyless entry, tinted glass, DAB radio, a trip computer and all the safety and driving dynamics of the top-end Maxx. The only major missing feature on the Start is an eight-inch touchscreen sat nav with European mapping, which is available on the mid-range Connect Plus trim and above.
For that reason, we recommend the Connect Plus, which is available for just over £16,000 and also features a reversing camera, cruise control and 17-inch alloys.
In terms of engine options, you choices are limited. The Soul is only available with 1.6-litre petrol or diesel power, with the Start trim limited to the petrol only. That engine is slightly more powerful than the diesel, producing 130bhp compared to the latter's 126bhp.
A six-speed manual transmission is provided for all trims, with the option of a six-speed automatic on the mid-range diesel Connect, Connect Plus and Mixx trims.
The manual diesel returns up to 46.3mpg fuel economy, which is markedly more than the petrol's 33.2mpg. In comparison to its rival the Nissan Juke, the Kia is significantly less efficient: the 1.5-litre diesel Juke returns up to 64.2mpg and emits just 104g/km of CO2 (for £20 a year road tax) compared to the Soul's 132g/km (£130 a year).
However, Kia also offers a fully electric Soul EV that's road tax-free and can drive over 130 miles on a single charge. Be warned, though, that this environmentally friendly model will set you back a almost £24,000.
To drive, the Soul is good fun and grips surprisingly well despite its height – plus it doesn’t lean too much when cornering. Visibility over the bonnet is good given that you sit quite high, but some may find the rear-seat windows a bit too small.
While the Soul's boot isn’t especially larger than those of its rivals – such as the Skoda Roomster, Skoda Yeti, Renault Captur and Citroen Cactus – the high roof certainly makes a difference when the rear seats are folded down.
Kia owners benefit from a market-leading seven-year warranty, so there's no issue with the Soul's reliability. However, the car was only awarded four out of five stars for crash protection by Euro NCAP, despite the myriad of safety features that come as standard.
Poor fuel economy and high road tax might put you off the Kia Soul
Plenty of power and grip, but inert steering and too much noise spoils the Kia Soul
The Kia Soul has an upmarket interior with lots of equipment
Plenty of head and legroom in the Kia Soul, plus lots of storage cubbies
The Kia Soul has a long warranty and lots of standard safety kit