Kia Soul hatchback
Price £12,800 - £29,995
- Bold styling
- Well equipped
- Spacious interior
- Noisy engines
- Too expensive to run
- Top trim levels too pricey
At a glance
"The Kia Soul is a roomy crossover with a classy interior, but its inefficient engines make it expensive to run."
The Kia Soul competes for attention in the crowded compact SUV class with looks that divide opinion. Depending on your point of view it's either pretty funky or too boxy looking. Other models like it include the Skoda Roomster and Skoda Yeti. Otherwise, the class is dominated by curvier, more stylish rivals – including the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. With its funky looks and practical touches, the Citroen Cactus falls between both camps, but it's more comfortable than the Soul and cheaper to run, too.
The Kia Soul was updated in 2014, when it became a little larger. At the same time, interior quality was improved along with the suspension, which now provides a more comfortable ride.
It's offered with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. They’re powerful, but depending on trim level, the petrol engine in particular can be thirsty. Top-spec versions of the Soul have larger wheels, which bring the petrol engine's fuel economy down to just 38.7mpg, compared with 41.5mpg on lesser models. CO2 emissions are also higher on these top-spec versions.
Diesel models fare only a little better, with the manual version posting a reasonable 56.5mpg but the automatic managing just 47.1mpg. If fuel economy is a big issue for you, there's always the pure-electric version of the Soul, called the Kia Soul EV. It attracts no road tax and can do over 130 miles on a charge – but it is quite expensive to buy.
Despite its high body and light steering, the Soul is fun to drive. It grips well and doesn’t lean too much in corners. Where the model's boxy looks pay dividends is in cabin space. The Soul is very roomy and offers plenty of head and legroom – certainly much more than you’ll find in more stylish rivals with lower roofs. You sit quite high, too, so visibility is good. The boot is no bigger than most rivals’, though, at least with the seats upright. Fold them down and there's a mass of space thanks to that high roof.
Regardless of trim level, the Soul's interior looks and feels well made. It's also well equipped. Even basic Start trim – which costs from just £12,800 in petrol form – features a fully adjustable steering wheel, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio and steering wheel-mounted controls. However, our pick of the five-trim range is Connect Plus, with its eight-inch touchscreen sat nav and automatic air-con.
Kia models have a good reputation for reliability and there's no reason to suppose the revised Soul will deviate from that. In any case, there's always Kia's industry-leading seven-year warranty to call on if things do go wrong. Although the model was awarded just four out of five stars for crash protection by Euro NCAP, it features lots of safety kit as standard, including ISOFIX child-seat mounts, hill-start assistance and electronic stability control.
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