IT started out in life as something a little bit different, even funky if you went for the right trim, and darned right outrageous in its most daring guise.

You could even buy a Soul complete with pulsating light show (mirror ball not included) and sound system to match.

But the Kia Soul has matured from brash newcomer with pretensions of youthful appeal into a more conservative proposition.

Boxy in a similar way to Skoda’s Yeti, its key selling point is its practicality. This is a car built to carry the driver and passengers in comfort, offering a ride height that offers both excellent visibility and is easy to get in and out of without the need to think about the approach.

A five-door, five-seat, front-wheel-drive urban crossover, it was introduced by Kia long before most manufacturers had identified a market for this kind of car.

The upright stance, square shoulders, distinctive bumper flares, standard-fit roof rails and wraparound greenhouse certainly made it stand out from the opposition.

Available in four grades – 1, 2, 3 and Sport - the Soul offers full connectivity with navigation and multimedia services on grades 2’ and above.

This is a thoroughly modern car, offering phone connectivity, voice commands and a seven or eight-inch touchscreen display and 3D maps with SD upgrades.

On grades 3, the multimedia system even includes a JBL sound system with external amplifier and subwoofer.

Other standard features on grade 1 include USB and aux ports, variable power-assisted steering and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Also fitted to every model are body-colour bumpers, door handles and side mirror casings, a high-gloss black grille with chrome surround, keyless entry, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, steering wheel-mounted controls, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, a luggage area cover and a trip computer.

Grade 2 – probably the best choice and the trim level tested here - adds navigation with the seven-inch screen, 17-inch instead of 16-inch alloy wheels, heated door mirrors, automatic light control, some nice cosmetic trim touches, cruise control with a speed limiter, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, projection headlamps, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and automatic air conditioning.

It feels just right, with the composed ride supplemented by lots of useful features.

Grade 3 supplements package with 18-inch alloys, chrome exterior door handles, front and rear parking sensors, a cooled glovebox, leather seats (front two heated), a luggage underfloor tray and boot power outlet, an engine start/stop button, mood lighting around the front door speakers, the JBL eight-speaker audio system, an eight-inch navigation screen and rain-sensing front wipers.

There are 1.6-litre GDi petrol and CRDi turbodiesel engines. The CRDi diesel develops 134bhp with the optional 7-DCT transmission. Acceleration from 0-60mph is achieved in 10.8 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox, while the top speed is 112mph. The respective figures with the 7-DCT gearbox are 10.7 seconds and 113mph.

Manual versions have combined fuel consumption of 58.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 127g/km, while the figures for the DCT are 56.5mpg and 130g/km.

Kia's 1.6-litre GDi Gamma petrol engine tested here develops 130bhp, accelerates from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph. Average fuel consumption is 43.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 152g/m.

The 201bhp T-GDi engine in the Sport model develops 201bhp. The combined fuel consumption is 40.9mpg, while CO2 emissions are 156g/km.

For those tempted to dip a toe into the world of electric motoring, the Soul is also available as Kia’s first global battery-electric vehicle, with a range extended to 155 miles.


Kia Soul 2 1.6 GDi

Price: £17,280

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol, producing 130bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 10.6 seconds; top speed 115mph

Economy: 43.5mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 152g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****