When my wife first laid her eyes on the Kia Soul at the auto show, right then and there she wanted one. I was intrigued, but not overly thrilled at owning one (I don’t have a vehicle of my own – that’s what road test vehicles are for). To stop my ears from bleeding because of my wife’s incessant nagging, I asked the Kia PR department for one to test at the earliest possible moment. That time has now arrived.
I wasn’t enamored with the Soul’s mediocre 142 horsepower (106 Kw) and the look is certainly “different.” I am however, interested in any vehicle that can be purchased at such a reasonable price and wanted to know how useful it could be. Within just a few minutes of driving it, my whole attitude towards it changed. The only “cheap” part of this vehicle is its price – everything else is better than you’d expect from a vehicle with a base price of just $15,495 Cdn.
I don’t dislike the look, but it’s completely different from anything else on the road except perhaps the Scion. In the bright green – “Mint” in Kia parlance (“Pee green” and “Booger green” was what my wife called it), it’s a pretty cool vehicle. The color brought out a lot of comments – both positive and negative. I didn’t mind it at all and several other people thought it matched the car perfectly. My wife and mother-in-law were pretty vocal in their dislike for the color.
Putting the color aside, the car brought smiles to the faces of just about everyone. I’m sure it’s partly because there are very few of them on the road, but every comment I got was positive. Even my very opinionated and negative sister-in-law was almost smitten by it. She sat in the back seat for a short trip and was actually quite impressed by it. This speaks volumes about how good a car this is!! If she can’t find fault with a budget car it HAS to be good!
The seats are comfortable, with the driver getting a six-way seat that is height- adjustable. There is no lumbar adjustment, but overall the seat doesn’t really miss it too much, and entry is effortless. The steering tilts (even on the base model), something I wasn’t expecting. The instrument cluster is very clear and easy to see exactly what you want – no guessing or wondering which button you should push to execute which function. Oh, if all other cars were this simple!!!
On the highway, the Soul is surprisingly quiet, even though the test vehicle had the 4-speed automatic. I was expecting a labored and slow rise to 100 km/h, but it was quite brisk! Staying in the 100-110 km/h range was not an issue and still the cabin remained quite quiet. Around town this is all one really needs for urban travel. Forget the Smart Fortwo – this is the ultimate runabout.
The audio system is simply incredible from a car in this price bracket, in fact even in $40,000 vehicles this stereo system would be something to talk about. You get an AM/FM/MP3 CD radio with Auxiliary and USB ports (BMW charges you $450 for the USB alone), a subwoofer, center speaker, 315-watt amplifier and speaker lights. The lights are more of a gimmick than anything else but they kept my wife amused.
Entry is easy because the door opens well out of the way, but the area for your feet is a little tight. Once seated however it is quite comfortable and there’s plenty of room for two people – three would really be a pinch. Knee, hip and shoulder space is better than you’d expect based on the overall size of the Soul. Headroom is more than anyone would ever need (unless you’re an NBA star).
The seats fold 60/40 and are almost flat, so you can get the maximum cargo use. I measured 635mm x 1168mm x 775mm (25” x 46” x 30.5”) with the seats up and 1460 mm x 1321mm x 851mm (57.5”x 52” x 33.5”) with the rear seats folded. Unfortunately, the front passenger seat doesn’t fold forward for more storage/longer items. Under the cargo floor is a large and very useful storage tray for keeping things away from prying eyes.
As for standard features, the list is long and impressive. All but the very base model get Sport-Tuned suspension, Cruise control, Keyless entry, Air, ABS, ESC (Stability Control), Traction Control, 4-wheel disc brakes, 16” Alloy wheels, Crash Auto Door unlock and deep tint privacy glass. Options are slim, but stepping up to the next model usually includes them and adds some more.
Even the base models get six airbags, heated seats, power window and locks, AM/FM/MP3 CD radio with Auxiliary and USB ports, Anti-theft Immobilizer and a tilt steering wheel.
The Kia Soul can be summed up in one word: Surprising! Kia has done a remarkable job with the Soul. It boggles the mind that a car this cheap to buy, can feel so much more expensive. From the buttons and switches, to the higher than expected quality of plastics on the door and dashboard – the Soul feels so much more expensive than cars costing many thousands of dollars than this.
From a little 2.0 litre, 142 hp engine, Kia has given us a car that is… surprisingly agile and definitely not sluggish! I’m a fiend for horsepower and torque, but this little car really did exceed any expectations I had with those low numbers. I got this car expecting it to be rubbish and I came away amazed at just how good it is.. and did I mention the price?
Way better than you’d expect in this price range
Killer standard stereo system
Loads of room in a small package
Have you seen the warranty?
Coming Soon! An Electric/Hybrid version
Another gear in the automatic transmission would be nice – not a deal-breaker though
The mega-moonroof from the Auto show’s prototype isn’t available and might never be
Dodge Caliber, Hyundai Elantra Touring, Kia Rio5, Mazda3, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Matrix, VW Golf
By The Numbers…
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.
For more information visit: www.Kia.ca
Pricing for the 2010 Kia Soul 4u+
Base price: $21,195 Cdn
As tested: $21,195 Cdn
Destination & Delivery: $1,650
Powertrain: 2.0 Litre 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC with CVVT; 4-speed automatic transmission; FWD
Horsepower: (Kw) 142 (106) @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: lb-ft (N.m.) 137 (186) @ 4,600 rpm
0-100 km/h: 9.4 seconds
Curb Weight: 1,295 -1,355 kg
Cargo Capacity: Behind Front Seats: 53.4 cu.ft (1,511 litres) // Behind Rear Seats: 19.3 cu.ft (546 litres)
City: 8.6 L/100 kms // Highway: 6.5 L/100 kms
I averaged 9.8 L/100 kms during mostly highway driving
Warranty and Roadside Assistance
CANADA: 1-year/20,000 km First-year adjustments; 5-year/100,000 km Worry-free comprehensive warranty; 5-year/100,000 km Powertrain Warranty & 5-year/100,000 km Roadside Assistance.
Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text & Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: Flagworld.com & Automobilsports.com