Kia Soul: First impressions

  • The Soul is a nice car to live with so far
  • Comfy interior and quiet engine impress
  • Not exciting to drive but it is relaxing

A couple of weeks in and the Kia Soul and I are getting along very nicely.

First of all, its looks have really grown on me. Details like the way the roof tapers from thick to thin as it gets towards the front of the car, the blacked-out windscreen pillars that make the windows look they’re part of a wraparound screen and the ‘backpack’ tailgate are really neatly resolved and it’s actually quite an engaging design to walk around and drink in.

When the car first arrived I began to regret choosing an all-white colour scheme; with its blocky shape I was worried that ‘our’ Soul bore more than a passing resemblance to a fridge on alloy wheels. Now though, I’m quite pleased we went for the ‘Clear White’ option – it seems to suit the Soul’s design better than a darker hue would have and it’s not been much of a nightmare to keep clean (yet).

Kia Soul side view

It’s nice to drive, too. Resolutely unthrilling it may be – corners aren’t really its thing – but that makes it a relaxing car to drive because you never feel the need to press on. Instead you’re quite happy to trundle, supported by the comfy driving seat and surrounded by one of the nicer interiors around at the moment.

With its soft, plush-feeling plastics, attractive design cues and neat details (the coloured ‘mood lights’ around the door speakers are a completely pointless touch but a nice one) the Soul’s cabin is a good place to be. The big central touchscreen has been easy to use so far too, and less distracting than similar systems in other cars we’ve tested. We’ll look at it in more detail in a future update.

Kia Soul

Like many diesel engines, the Soul’s 1.6-litre lump does have an annoying delay in its power delivery at low revs. The rev counter needle needs to swing past 1,900rpm or so for it to wake up, which can mean using a lower gear than you might normally choose when negotiating urban junctions for example.

Once you’re into its mid-range it has enough performance to keep most drivers happy though, and one of its big plus points is that it’s very smooth and quiet, especially at motorway speeds.

Kia Soul 2014 boot

Finally, I’ve reassessed my opinion of the Soul’s boot space. When we first drove the car on its international launch we struggled to fit a bag each for four people in the boot, having to remove the parcel shelf and balance it on top. It seemed that Kia had given the Soul an incredibly roomy interior but spoilt it with a shoebox-sized boot.

Our bags must have been bigger than I thought though, because in the short time I’ve been using the car I haven’t struggled for space too much yet. At 354 litres the boot’s hardly huge but it’s fine enough for a weekly food shop for a couple of people or to carry a tool box and a few odds and ends.

So the Soul’s got off on the right foot so far; next time we’ll look at its interior in a bit more detail.

Mileage: 754 miles

Fuel economy: 41.7mpg (indicated)