The Korean MPV has a good body but…
The MPV market is hardly flourishing, but you could argue that means that there is less competition than in, say, the SUV sector. Certainly Kia has carved out a small niche for itself with the Soul, a compact yet spacious MPV.
There is a choice of two engines, both 1.6-litre. The petrol version produces 130bhp and the diesel 126bhp. The diesel actually makes the easier driver as the petrol unit isn’t fitted with a turbo so you end up revving it pretty hard to make good progress. The torquier diesel does it all more calmly.
It’s a tall, not terribly wide boxy shape, and that gives the suspension quite an issue. The handling is actually quite good, but to make it firm enough to avoid swaying about, the designers compromised with a rather firm ride. There are three modes for the steering, but none of them gives any feedback.
In the cabin there is a bit of wind noise, and that’s joined by a small amount of engine noise when you rev them, with the diesel adding a bit of vibration too. But the driver has plenty of room, helped by that high roofline. Even in the rear, there’s plenty of headroom for two passengers. That boxy shape certainly helps cabin space, even if it doesn’t help handling or dynamics.
The cabin comes basically equipped with Start trim, but move up to Connect and you get 17-inch rather than 16-inch wheels, colour screen reversing camera and Bluetooth. However, Connect Plus adds sat nav, a bigger screen, climate control and a good sound system.
For those thinking of buying a Soul, a serious plus point is that famous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty of Kia’s. Add to that some very good results in the latest reliability surveys as well as a feeling that the cabin is well made, and you have a promising basis for purchase.
You can haggle a decent discount off what was a sensible starting price anyway, but bear in mind residuals won’t be that strong. With high CO2 emissions this is more of a private purchase than a company car, but if you fancy something a bit different that can comfortably take four in a small exterior package, then the Soul might make a good mate.