BLESS MY SOUL
The future is whatever you want. So Kia’s Soul suggests. Thanks to options that include luminescent seat fabric, a sound system with lighting that pulsates to the beat of your fave tunes, or perhaps a dragon bodywork ‘tattoo’, it’s unlikely any two Souls will perfectly match. Due in March from around £11,000, it’s made in South Korea and moulded by Peter Schreyer who sired Audi’s TT. Its mission? To be a “cool and cosmo urban activity car for trendsetters”. One thing’s sure, it’s a headache for anyone who wants their cars to steer neatly into one category. The five-door, five-seat layout might lure buyers who’d otherwise stick to such normal family fare as Ford’s Focus, but the tall roof and faux 4×4 proportions make the Soul an obvious rival against such small MPVs as Nissan’s cuddly Qashqai. All models will have remote locking, six airbags, stability and traction control and two ISOfix mounting points. Less oddball options include a reversing camera and bleepers (recommended, given the tall waistline), keyless entry, larger alloys and a low-tyre pressure alert.
For now, it’s this 128bhp 1.6 (as applauded in the Kia cee’d), or a same-size petrol. If you want power though, the CRDi will out-accelerate the petrol in mid-range and – here’s a killer card – against the petrol’s 42.8mpg, the CRDi averages a laudable 55.4. It also undercuts the petrol on VED tax by one band at 137g/km of CO2.
Access is a breeze, thanks to elevated seat bases and wide-opening doors. And no one will be complaining from the rear: there’s enough elbow, leg and head room to ensure three adults co-exist happily over long journeys.
The dash’s plastic is hard to the touch, but it’s textured to look soft. Neat touches include the ability to mix and match dash and trim colours, so you can spec a red fascia or, more discreetly the same colour to line the glove box and the central storage bin between the front seats.
Will the Soul stir us? It delivers fresh appeal to the small MPV club (even if it’s officially not one), and busy families will find that appeal serious: there’s a huge 700 litres of space with the rear seats folded flat and 222 litres, including the hidden undertray, with them upright. The deal-clincher, however, will be financial – tied to the keen price, a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is planned.
RIVALS: CITROËN BERLINGO MULTISPACE XTR HDi 110, PEUGEOT PARTNER
- Engine: 1582cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 128bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 192lb ft at 1,900 – 4,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: tba
- Combined Consumption: 55.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 137g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 11.3 secs
- Max speed: 113mph
- Insurance Group: tba