Kia Soul

The Essentials

  • Price from £12,795
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 57.6mpg
  • What is it? The funky-looking Soul is spacious and well equipped but it costs too much to buy and run, especially considering its many shortcomings.

Great

  • Compact car with good passenger space
  • Entry-level cars are well equipped
  • Decent performance from the petrol engine

Gripes

  • It's pretty poor to drive
  • It's not cheap enough to be a genuine budget alternative
  • Running costs aren't as low as many rivals
  • Drive

    Acceptable, but let down by a jarring ride quality

  • Inside

    Controls poorly marked and limited rear visibility

  • Safety

    Lots of airbags as standard

  • Reliability

    Sturdy build quality, but some disappointing plastics

  • Space

    Good space for the price, but not all that clever

  • Standard and extras

    Lots of optional accessories so you can personalise your Soul

  • What's it like to drive?

    There are two engines available. The 1.6-litre petrol feels perky enough but it's not as quick as its 138bhp suggests, and it gets quite vocal if you rev it hard. The 1.6-litre diesel has less power and acceleration than the petrol.
    Ride quality is where the Soul really struggles. The car jitters irritatingly over every surface, while bigger bumps thump harshly into the cabin. The handling isn't much better, either - the body sways in bends, grip is too limited in bends and the steering is slow, lifeless and vague. Despite the car's boxy shape, wind noise is quite well contained, but there's a lot of road noise in the cabin, even at moderate speeds.

  • What's it like inside?

    The cabin looks reasonably smart but the plastics are hard to the touch, which doesn't feel very classy. The door pulls and parts of the dash have appealing rubberised finishes, but these also look rather gawdy.
    The stereo and ventilation controls will take some getting used to, because they're not that clearly labelled. Rear visibility is hampered by thick rear pillars, too. Still, there's lots of adjustment for the steering wheel and the driver's seat.
    For a relatively compact car, the Soul has impressive interior space. The high roof means there's plenty of headroom throughout, and legroom is generous in the back. A wide middle seat and flat floor means it'll take three in the back quite comfortably. It's shame that the boot is so small, but at least the seats fold flat to expand the load area.
    Entry-level '1' models have air-conditioning, four electric windows, Bluetooth and steering wheel controls; '2' cars add alloys and electric mirrors.

  • How reliable is it?

    Kia's reliability record is reasonable, and you get a generous seven-year warranty. All Soul models have a decent amount of safety kit. Electronic stability control is provided, along with Hill Start Assist and six airbags.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Soul is more likely to be something you buy with your heart than your head. The entry-level Soul (the 1.6 GDI 1) is priced well enough for a car of this size, but prices climb steeply as you go further up the range. The Soul isn't that cheap to run, either - both the petrol and diesel have higher-than-average mpg and CO2 figures for the class. Resale values aren't too bad, though.