The Kia Soul is one of those cars that tries to something for everyone. It has a commanding driving position that makes you feel like you are in a crossover and it's small and dinky enough to squeeze around tight urban parking spaces. It really is a jack of all trades but what has it mastered?
The 1.6 in the entry-level Base trim comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox with a six-speed automatic as an option. We wouldn't bother with the Base trim if you want an auto gearbox; instead we'd opt for the Plus trim which adds an automatic standard and comes with a smoother 2-liter engine.
The Soul won't turn through corners and bends as well as a Focus or Golf but you'll forgive it when you see how comfortable it is to drive around town and on the highway. Both engines provide decent turn of pace but the 2-liter feels more relaxed at highway speeds. Steering feedback is good and the ride comfort is also good too. Plus and Exclamation trim both suffer from a firmer ride due to the larger alloys that are fitted as standard. Wind and road noise are both at respectable levels.
The driver's seat offers plenty of comfort and offers an array of adjustments for drivers of all sizes to get comfortable. There is plenty of headroom and legroom for both the front rear passengers. The infotainment system we had out tester car (Plus trim) was easy to navigate through and everything was within easy reach of the driver's hand. Boot space is decent too and with the rear seat folded down its more than generous.
Base trim gets decent kit for the money but the automatic gearbox is what makes the this trim rather pointless because you can easily step up to the Plus for similar cash. Air-con, Cd-player, bluetooth and keyless entry all come standard on all trims. You'll have to step up to the Plus and Exclamation to get larger alloys and the top of the range gets the LED headlights and larger infotaimnet display.
Kia is known for having rock hard reliability and the same can be said about the Soul. The interior feels well put together and all the controls and dials feel long lasting. Kia was once considered the budget brand for those who couldn't afford the more popular options, that's all changing because the Soul is a desirable alternative to even the best such as the Golf or Ford Focus.
Overall: It's hard to fault the Kia Soul. It's good but not great.
Likes: Easy to drive and live with. Driving position is similar to that of a crossover. Decent kit standard.
Dislikes: It's not as engaging to drive as some rivals, and it may depreciate faster too.
Devon's Choice: Skip the entry Base unless you want the manual gearbox. Everyone else who wants an automatic will have to pay a hefty premium which pushes the price closer to the Plus trim (which is our pick of the range). The top of the range is a bit expensive, which leaves you with the most sensible trim the Plus. It offers decent kit and comes with the smoother 2-liter engine standard.
(Note* We have yet to test drive the new turbo engine option on the Soul.)