Kia Soul hatchback
- Bold styling
- Spacious interior
- Generous standard kit
- Disappointing economy figures
- Diesel engine can be noisy
- Ford Fiesta is cheaper
"The latest Kia Soul is better to drive and more comfortable than its predecessor but fuel economy disappoints."
The Kia Soul is a small crossover that takes on the likes of the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and popular Nissan Juke. The updated model offers an even more distinctive look that's designed to appeal to a younger market, combining supermini dimensions with chunky SUV styling.
The latest Soul has a more upmarket interior and is more spacious inside but the choice of just two engines (a petrol and a diesel) remains. As with most cars, the diesel is a better bet for buyers doing plenty of miles. There are five trim levels to choose from and, as with all new Kias, you get a seven year/100,000 mile warranty. An electric version of the car called the Kia Soul EV will join the range in the autumn of 2014.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Choice of two engines but neither offer great economy
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is more economical than the petrol alternative but its economy figures are relatively disappointing. Even with start-stop technology, which turns the engine off when the car comes to a stop for increased efficiency, CO2 emissions are still 132g/km and the car returns 56.5mpg. If you choose the automatic gearbox, emissions increase even further to 158g/km of CO2. By comparison, the 1.5-litre diesel engine in the cheapest Nissan Juke can do 61.4mpg and emits 104g/km of CO2.
The 1.6-litre petrol Soul will do 41.5mpg and emits 158g/km of CO2 in Start, Connect and Connect Plus models, meaning the car will cost £180 per year to tax, which is expensive for a car in this class. On the higher spec Mixx and Maxx petrol models, economy drops even further to 38.7mpg and 170g/km of CO2, putting the car in an even higher tax band and meaning more stops at petrol stations. If you're buying a Soul, avoid the petrol engine.
There is hope for Soul customers looking for lower running costs in the form of the all-electric Soul EV, which will join the range towards the end of 2014.
Interior & comfort
Suspension is more comfortable and interior has been improved
Kia has improved the suspension of the new Soul so that bumps and potholes in the road aren’t as jarring inside the car. Top-of-the-range Mixx and Maxx models with 18-inch wheels still suffer slightly in this respect though, thumping over bigger obstacles, so bear this in mind when buying.
The diesel engine is quite noisy when idling but the cabin is well insulated from road and engine noise, and visibility is pretty good too thanks to large windows and the high driving position.
The new interior takes the Soul much more upmarket, with new buttons and switches that look modern and are well laid out – build quality is excellent too. Higher spec models get a touchscreen for the sat-nav and an upgraded audio system.
Practicality & boot space
Plenty of space thanks to car's boxy shape
The new Soul is longer, wider and taller than the old one, so offers even better practicality. The car's boxy shape helps to create plenty of headroom, while space for passengers in the back is also good. The glovebox is big and the door bins are wide enough to take most of the items you’re likely to want to keep in them.
Sadly the rear seats don’t slide and when they’re folded down they aren’t totally flat, but they do give way to create a useful 1,367 litres of load capacity, expanding on the standard 354 litres available with the seats in place.
Reliability & safety
Industry-leading seven-year warranty
Kia has a good reputation for reliability and they’re willing to back it up with an industry-leading warranty that covers the car for seven years/100,000 miles. Kia is popular among its customers as well, with the manufacturer coming seventh out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power survey.
A lot of the parts in the new Soul have been tried and tested in other Kia models and both engines are well-proven.
Although the new Soul is yet to be tested, the last model achieved a five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, so we’d expect the latest one to do the same. Multiple airbags and electronic stability control are standard on all models.
Engines, drive & performance
Eager diesel engine and surprising lack of body roll
The 126bhp 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine makes the Soul feel pretty nippy and it has plenty of power for overtaking and pulling out quickly at junctions and roundabouts. The car generally feels better to drive than the old one and a bit more sophisticated.
The steering has three different settings, comfort, normal and sport, which alter the feel slightly for different driving scenarios. The Soul performs pretty well in corners, with a surprising lack of body roll for a car with a tall body and an SUV stance. The gearbox is pleasant to use too, with changes feeling nicely light.
Price, value for money & options
Good equipment levels across entire range
There are five trim levels: Start, Connect, Connect Plus, Mixx and Maxx but equipment levels across the range are pretty good. Mixx and Maxx models get a styling pack that includes gloss black bumpers, side skirts and wheelarches. The Maxx trim level also includes a panoramic roof rather than the choice of four coloured ones offered on Mixx versions, and top-of-the-range cars also come with touchscreen sat-nav, reversing cameras and Bluetooth.
What the others say
"The new Kia Soul 2014 blends the solid build quality, generous standard kit and composed driving manners we’ve come to expect from Kia with bold styling and quirky detailing."
"The Soul is more spacious than its closest rivals and has a cabin that looks and feels a little bit classier, too."
"The steering is spectacularly inert and isn’t much helped with the variable weight adjustment button, which merely makes it harder to turn the wheel."