A Tardis of a compact SUV.

Introduction

Cracking the traditional looking compact SUV mould, the Kia Soul has quirky styling that looks like something right out of an anime film. Behind its boxy proportions lies a roomy interior with generous space for passengers. An update in 2016 brought with it improved ride quality and the introduction of a new 1.6-litre petrol engine to join the diesel line-up. If electric vehicles are your thing, then there’s also the Soul EV, which offers a range of up to 132 miles. Regardless of powertrain, the prospect of Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty brings added appeal.

 

Body Style: Compact SUV Seats: 5 MRP from £13,995 - £29,995 

  

Did you know? The Soul EV was the first car to use intelligent air conditioning to heat or cool just the driver’s side to reduce energy consumption.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (6.5/10)

There is more to the Kia Soul than just its somewhat unconventional exterior styling. With interior space maximised it offers good amounts of room for passengers and a wide boot aperture makes getting bulky items in that bit easier. Its economical 1.6-litre diesel engine won’t excite you, but the 1.6-litre petrol with its seven-speed auto might. While it may not be the most obvious choice, it is a fun car that is not only well-finished but is also imbued with plenty of character. If you want a compact SUV that stands out from the crowd, then you’ll love the Kia Soul.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★☆☆☆ (6/10)

Specs & Trims

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

2017 Kia Soul

We Like

Cool exterior design

Roomy interior

Refined and comfy

We Don't Like

Limited range of engines

Not very engaging to drive

Some areas inside feel cheap

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Kia Soul

The exterior styling of the Kia Soul certainly divides opinion, but one thing is sure: you won’t mistake it for anything else, and its unusual proportions contribute to its generous levels of interior space. Chunky looks, with an overall length of 4,140mm and 1,800mm width, make it only a foot shorter than the more popular Kia Sportage. As standard, it comes with 16-inch wheels, but the 18-inch alloys on the ‘3’ trim level set it off.

Unusually for such a striking design Kia doesn’t offer a huge variety of vibrant exterior colours, but there are a couple of two-tone colour schemes that suit the car well. The Soul EV is differentiated by a blanked-off grille, behind which is the charging port. It gets model-specific exterior colours and unique alloy wheels, as well.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Kia Soul

The 2016 update to the Kia Soul brought with it an improved interior design, with more of an emphasis placed on increasing the quality of the materials used. All of the buttons are clearly labelled and are easy to find and use. Similarly, the instrument display is simple and well laid out with ‘3’ and ‘Sport’ specification models gaining an additional 4.2-inch TFT display.  The multifunction steering wheel isn’t too chunky either.

Both driver and passengers do well when it comes to space. The elevated driving position offers a good view out, with little obstruction coming from the A-pillars. Plenty of seat movement and a steering column that can be adjusted for rake and reach help. In the back, there is room for three, and both outer seat passengers benefit from generous amounts of leg- and headroom.

Practicality

The regular Soul gets 354 litres of boot space that is accessible via a wide tailgate opening. Although the rear seats don’t fold completely flat, when tumbled, the boot capacity rises to 994 litres, which, given the Soul’s exterior size, isn’t too bad. If you choose the electric Soul EV, you do lose out slightly on boot capacity due to the battery. The result is a standard 281 litres, increasing to 891 litres.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Kia Soul

All Kia Soul models come equipped with Bluetooth phone connectivity as standard. Second tier Souls get a seven-inch touchscreen system, while level ‘3’ and up get a larger eight-inch system. Both feature satellite navigation and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connections. Apart from the entry grade Soul, rear parking sensors are standard, but front sensors come only on ‘3’ specification models. A standard six-speaker audio system is fitted to ‘1’ and ‘2’ versions, while ‘3’ and ‘Sport’ models get an eight-speaker JBL sound system.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

2017 Kia Soul

Underneath its concept car-like exterior, the Soul drives and handles just like a very normal vehicle. Much of its mechanical parts come from the Kia Ceed, which is no bad thing, but it isn’t the most exciting or involving car to drive. The popular engine choice is the 1.6-litre CRDi diesel. This turbocharged unit is used throughout Kia’s range, producing, in this case, 134hp. It won’t see you setting any acceleration records; not that you’ll want to as it isn’t the most refined diesel engine to start with, and when driven that bit harder it is even more vocal. Availability of 191lb ft of torque means that it can cruise comfortably at motorway speeds, though. Against rival diesels, the 1.6-litre unit is neither the most economical nor the cheapest to tax.

If you fancy something with a bit more pep, there is a turbocharged petrol version that produces 203hp and sees the Soul reach 60mph a whole 3.3 seconds faster than the diesel. The downside is that it is a lot thirstier than the diesel, with Kia (optimistically) quoting 40mpg. As you might expect from the Soul EV, it feels brisk thanks to its electric motor. On the move, it highlights the well-built nature of the Kia, with little in the way of road noise or rattles. 

Ride quality isn’t bad in the Kia Soul, but opting for the smaller alloy wheels does add more comfort. Through corners, there isn’t quite as much roll as you might expect given the Kia’s somewhat ungainly silhouette. Even though there are three different steering settings, other than varying the amount of power steering assistance, there isn’t a high amount of feedback from any of them.

Recommended engine: 1.6 CRDi

0-62mph

10.8 seconds

Fuel economy

58.8mpg

Emissions

127g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

2017 Kia Soul

Kia equips all Soul models with ABS that includes Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist System (BAS). In addition to this there is Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) to help keep things under control in trickier conditions. Across the range, Kia also fits Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) to stop the car from rolling back during a hill start, and a tyre pressure monitoring system to alert you to a puncture. Both lane departure warning and a blind spot detection with cross traffic alert are available, but only on the range-topping specification.

When Kia put the Soul through the Euro NCAP test in 2014, it scored a reasonable four stars. Both adult and child occupant protection scored well with 75- and 82 percent respectively, but was let down in the pedestrian protection by its high front, while fewer safety assistance systems saw the car score just 56 percent in this area. The Kia Soul EV scored the same, but earned a slightly higher adult occupant safety rating of 84 percent.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs & Trim Levels: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

2017 Kia Soul

Colours

On the entry grade Soul there are four colours to choose from: Clear White, which is the standard no-cost colour, Quartz Black, Titanium Silver, and Inferno Red, the three of which cost extra. Caribbean Blue is a premium colour available only on the mid-level model. There are a couple of two-tone colour schemes to choose from as well: Inferno Red with Quartz Black roof, and Clear White with Inferno Red roof. They do look good.  

The Soul EV gets a unique range of colours that include Caribbean Blue with Clear White Roof, Titanium Silver, and Snow White Pearl with Electric Blue Roof.

Trim Levels

Kia offers a total of four distinct specification grades in the regular Soul and, for simplicity, they are numbered 1, 2 and 3, with a range-topping ‘Sport’ model rounding things off. In the Soul ‘1’, you get 16-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, air conditioning, roof rails, Bluetooth connectivity, all round electric windows, body coloured and electrically adjustable door mirrors, and Kia’s Flex Steer system. This grade is only available with the 1.6 GDi petrol engine and manual gearbox.

The Soul ‘2’ range adds 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter function, black high gloss, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, seven-inch navigation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear view camera, and rear parking sensors.

Only the 1.6 CRDi diesel is offered on Soul ‘3’ models. With that you get 18-inch alloy wheels, smart key, engine start/stop button, automatic air conditioning, leather seats, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, JBL sound system, and an eight-inch navigation system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Soul ‘Sport’ gets a panoramic sunroof, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Xenon headlights with auto levelling function, LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights. High Beam Assist and Lane Departure Warning system also feature as standard at this level.

With the Kia Soul EV, there is just one standard specification including 16-inch lightweight alloy wheels with super low-rolling resistance tyres, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights and front fog lights, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, DAB radio, privacy glass and solar glass, keyless entry and start, eight-inch touchscreen and satellite navigation with European mapping and traffic messaging channel (TMC) and charging point locator, and automatic dual-zone air conditioning.

Size and Dimensions

The Soul gives the impression of being larger than it actually is due to its height. At just over four metres in length it easily fits into regular parking spaces. Thanks to a short rear overhang and near-vertical back, it can be backed right up against a wall out of the way with confidence.

Length

4,140mm

Width

1,800mm (including door mirrors)

Height

1,606mm (on 18-inch wheels)

Max towing weight with brake

1,300kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Kia Soul

With compared to some other rivals in the compact SUV segment, Kia’s 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine isn’t the most fuel efficient, but it does manage a reasonable 58.8mpg with the manual transmission. The automatic fares slightly worse, with a combined 56.5mpg. If your preference is petrol power, then expect to get close to Kia’s quoted 43.5mpg for the naturally-aspirated GDi unit, while the turbocharged T-GDi manages a combined 40.9mpg at best.

Reliability and Servicing

An obvious selling point for Kia is its seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. Kia has been using its diesel and petrol engines for some time now and in a variety of models and the newer turbocharged petrol engine hasn’t been known to present any major issues as yet. Regardless of diesel, electric, or petrol models, Kia recommends a service every 12 months, or every 20,000 miles for the diesels and every 10,000 miles for the electric and petrol.

With every new Kia Soul, you can purchase an additional service package called Care-3, which covers the cost of your first three services. Kia Care-3 Plus provides the same for your first five services.

Minor

12 months or 10,000 miles (petrol/electric), 12 month or 20,000 miles (diesel)

Major

24 months or 20,000 miles

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Kia Soul

With prices starting from £13,995, the Kia Soul can be an affordable compact SUV, although if you’re a fan of having higher levels of equipment inside then it soon can become expensive. The good thing is that even the Soul ‘2’ model gets a good amount of equipment as standard.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Trend Setter

Opting for the Soul ‘Sport’ with the two-tone colour scheme will ensure that your car turns heads.  

Car Enthusiast

There’s only really one choice here and that’s the turbocharged 1.6 T-GDi engine, which makes this one nippy and funky looking car.

Green Car Buyer

The Soul EV not only looks cool, but features a good driving range of up to 132 miles.

Rivals

Citroen C4 Cactus

Looks even wackier than the Kia, and is full of cool design touches inside and out; drives well too.

Dacia Duster

Cheap, rugged, and better to drive than you might think. It also comes with the choice of all-wheel-drive transmission.

Renault Captur

One of the most popular compact SUVs around and for good reason, not only well-priced but has a good range of engines.

SsangYong Tivoli

What is might lack in overall refinement it makes up for in good looks, and the larger XLV version has an enormous boot.

Suzuki Vitara

A familiar name, but the latest Suzuki Vitara is far removed from the old model you might remember and now drives every bit as well as it looks.

What others say

Carwow

“The Soul’s semi-SUV body style gives the driver a great view of their surroundings, although the over-the-shoulder visibility is restricted by the car’s thick rear pillars.”

Autocar

This is a practical, well finished, well priced, and perfectly habitable car with plenty of kerbside appeal.”

 

Be part of something big

2017 Kia Soul