Twin test: Spacious small cars

  • We pit the fashionable Kia Soul against the practical Nissan Note
  • Driving, practicality and running costs all considered
  • Find out which car we would we choose

In a funky departure for the South Korean manufacturer, the Kia Soul aims to capture some of the competitive small hatchback class. There’s a huge amount of competition, but what if you need more interior space? Let’s see how it stacks up against the popular, British-built Nissan Note.

Kia Soul (2009-2013) vs Nissan Note (2006-2013)


You’ve got the option of petrol or diesel power for the boxy Soul. Both are mated with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. The petrol lacks punch, making the diesel the better all-rounder. It’s agile and composed, manoeuvring is easy, and the 16-inch wheels cope well with rutted UK roads.

Unlike the Soul, the Note comes with three engine choices, but the 1.4-litre petrol engine has to be worked hard whereas the 1.6 has plenty of pace. The 1.5-litre diesel comes in two outputs, both offering good low-down pulling power and economy. Handling is accomplished and assured.


The Soul has plenty of bootspace at 340 litres, and can accommodate outsized loads thanks to its boxy design. Rear seat folding combinations are versatile, and cabin storage plentiful. Front door pockets can easily accommodate large drinks bottles, and the storage in the dash is deep.

The Note’s practicality is a key selling point - the rear bench slides to give passengers in the back a huge amount of legroom, and fold-flat seats give a loadspace of 1,332 litres. Plus the boot has a reversible cover with a wipe-clean surface on one side. To top it off, there’s a vast glove box and under seat storage.


It doesn’t cost a huge amount to run the Soul, with the petrol version achieving 44mpg and the diesel 55mpg. In addition, the car comes with Kia’s whopping seven-year warranty. Insurance is low for such a large car, and emissions are roughly average.

Nissan has low servicing costs, and car tax starts at £20 per year. Fuel consumption is average for the class on all engines, with the economical diesel achieving up to 63mpg. Insurance is low, and while you don’t get a long warranty, Nissan is famed for its reliability.



Kia Soul

Nissan Note


1.6-litre petrol or diesel

1.4 and 1.6 petrol,1.5-litre diesel


124 -138bhp

84 -108bhp


10.0 -11.5 seconds

10.4 -13.0 seconds

Fuel economy

43 -57 mpg

41 - 65 mpg

Fuel Capacity 

48 litres

46 litres

Road tax

£110 - £205 

£20 - £180

Insurance groups 

14 -19

10 -16

Boot space

340 litres

437 litres

CO2 emissions

129 -167g/km


The Verdict

The Soul makes a compelling argument for itself primarily thanks to the seven-year warranty, which is transferable between owners for a little extra peace of mind. Unfortunately, in all other areas the Note has it licked, but there’s not a massive amount in it.

While the Soul is certainly distinctive, on balance the Note wins out. Although the Note does have a more conservative design, it trumps the Soul with lower running costs and better practicality yet still being a great drive.