Kia Soul - Used Car

Review

Kia Soul Mixx, front static
Kia Soul Mixx, full front static
Kia Soul Mixx, rear static
Kia Soul Mixx, dashboard

IT was a bit of a shame really, but Kia's first-generation compact SUV Soul crossover never quite made it to the big time in the UK.

However, things have now changed somewhat for the quirky fun, fun, fun model from the South Korean marque.

The second-generation Soul hit our showrooms just about two years ago and although from the outside you may think that Kia just gave the car a bit of a makeover and painted it in a range of funky colours, you couldn't be further from the truth.

For this was a brand new Soul from the wheel nuts up, and it turned out to be quieter, stronger and more practical than the original.

For starters, 66 per cent of the body is made from high strength steels, which result in it being nearly 30 per cent more rigid than the original.

The stronger bodyshell, coupled with big changes to both the front and rear suspension, meant the car offered significantly improved driving dynamics, which in turn gave for a more compliant ride coupled with better refinement.

Based on the cee'd platform, it meant that it was also bigger both in length and width ... and it showed.

The amount of leg, shoulder and head room inside was simply amazing. Where the designers found all the space from defied belief.

The smoother, rounded body shell gave the car a more grown-up look, but the upright stance, squared shoulders and wrap-around greenhouse-style windows, made the car instantly recognisable as a Soul.

Kia reserved the 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a similar-sized 126bhp turbocharged diesel engine - both originally in the cee'd range - to power the Soul ... and both did the job remarkably well, considering their torque figures worked out at just 119lb/ft and 192lb/ft respectively.

While they were both smooth and quiet and revelled on long, flat stretches of dual-carriageways and smooth-surfaced A roads, the Soul was never meant to resemble anything like a sports car, and the petrol unit in particular needed to be worked a bit in order for it to keep up with the flow when it came to steeper inclines.

On the hoof, very little engine noise found its way into the cabin to spoil things and even with the test car sitting on big 18-inch wheels, offered a silky-smooth, relaxed and enjoyable ride.

However, the biggest surprise for me was saved for inside the car. From the moment you jump in, it just screamed quality with a capital Q.

The interior designers excelled themselves with soft-feel plastics throughout, highlighted with piano-black inserts on the door panels, around the centre console and the eight-inch sat nav screen housing.

Fabrics, too, were top notch and certainly looked like they would stand the test of time, while the leather in the top spec Maxx model was as good as you could possibly wish for.

The Soul came in five trim levels, kicking off with the aptly named Start trim. This one was available in petrol guise only, but came with air conditioning and a DAB radio fitted as standard.

Move on up to Connect trim, which added goodies such as reversing camers, Bluetooth and 17-inch alloy wheels. It was available with both diesel and petrol engines.

The star of the show was the Connect Plus, the big seller in the range. It came with high-definition touch-screen sat nav, premium Infinity sound system and climate control.

The top two trim levels, the Mixx and Maxx, pretty much want for nothing, with standard features including heated front and rear seats, full leather, front LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and push-button engine start and panoramic glass roof, while options such as smart parking assist and lane departure warning system were also available.

A 2014 63-plate Soul GDi petrol in entry-level Start trim will have a price tag somewhere between £5,905 and £7,560, while more upmarket Connect versions will come in at around £6,775 to £8,685 in petrol guise and from £7,650 to £9,800 for the CRDi diesel.

Similar aged models in Mixx trim will command a price tag of between £7,870 to £10,080 for the petrol and from £8,800 to £11,270 for the diesel.

Move on to range-topping Maxx spec and you'll have to fork out anything from £8,475 to £10,855 for the petrol version and between £9,350 and £11,975 for the oil-burner.

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