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KIA's compact crossover is a “love it” or “hate it” type of car. Superficial, of course. Objectively when you drive it, opinions would be less polarised, as it is a good car.
Now in its 2nd generation, and halfway through its lifecycle – it has undergone a facelift. The Soul remains a cube of self-expression with a design that beats to the sound of its own drum. Where modern convention has led to sharper more chiselled lines on competitive vehicles, the Soul is rather a series of squares within squares, which gives it its unique boxy looks - a design feature that KIA market as "it's hip to be square".
Being unique often gives things character. Whether you like the Soul or not - you must admit - it has character. Adding to its charm are a collective set of revisions that enhance the funky little Soul further. Exterior updates include remodelled front bumpers, which now feature a metal skid plate treatment that endows the Soul with a more robust and sportier appearance. KIA has also given the Soul’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille a minor revision while its headlights see an alteration to its composition and layout – on the high-specification SMART models, the Soul’s LED daytime running lights move to the bottom of the light.
The Soul’s rear bumper now remodelled features a metal skid plate treatment as well as newly-designed fog lamps and reflectors for greater illumination. Entry-level START models feature a designed, sportier alloy wheel design, while the alloy wheel design on the STREET and SMART models remain unchanged.
On the inside, the Soul features one of the most spacious and innovatively designed interiors in its segment, revisions to the Soul’s cabin have been kept to the minimum. Entry-level START models feature a unique redesigned cloth upholstery, while STREET and SMART models retain their black leather interior with contrasting stitching detail. Cabin ambience has also been enhanced with the introduction of new gloss black and metallic highlights and switchgear. The Soul boasts class-leading quality - in fact, the KIA Soul has topped its segment in the annual J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey in the USA, first reaching the top spot in 2012, retaining that position ever since then.
The entry-level START features a comprehensive list of standard specification. These include a radio with RDS, MP3/Aux/USB jacks, Bluetooth connectivity and six speakers, central locking, an immobiliser, a rear-view camera, electro chromatic rear-view mirror, electric windows front and rear, electric heated side mirrors with integrated indicators, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also features ABS brakes, six airbags, active (up and down) headrests; an impact-sensing door unlocks function and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
I’d have to agree with KIA’s Gary Scott: “the new turbodiesel Soul 1.6 START is probably the best-built, most spacious and well-specced diesel crossover below R400,000”. “At R329,995 it represents exceptional value, and a quick test drive will more than confirm its virtues.”
A highlight of the face-lifted Soul is the introduction of turbocharged diesel derivative to the range. The Soul 1.6 CRDi START is powered by KIA’s ‘U2’ 1,6-litre turbodiesel engine that develops 94 kW of power at 4,000 r/min and 260 Nm of torque between 1,900 and 2,750 r/min. This engine is partnered to either a six-speed manual transmission with an automatic option. Over my week with the Soul, using it predominantly in and around town, I recorded a fuel consumption figure of 9.2-l per 100 kilometres. KIA claims 5.2, which is incredibly low. So, if you use the highway mixed with some suburban driving, you’ll get a figure somewhere in between mine and KIA’s.
Punchy diesel engine
Lovey ride quality
Little boot, but if you lower the rear seats, space increases dramatically.
Notchy manual gearbox
Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Toyota C-HR
1.6 Smart R309 995
1.6 Smart Automatic R322 995
1.6 CRDi (Diesel) Smart R329 995
2.0 Street R347 995
1.6 DSL (Diesel) Street R376 995
2.0 Smart Automatic R391 995
1.6 DSL (Diesel) Smart DCT (Double Clutch Automatic) R431 995
Service and warranty
All models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading 5-year/Unlimited Kilometre Warranty, 5-year/Unlimited Kilometre Roadside Assistance as well as a 4-year/90,000km Service Plan.
1.6 CRDi (Diesel) Smart R329 995
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