Kia Soul: Welcome to Parkers

  • Kia’s quirky, boxy Soul joins our test fleet
  • We’ve chosen the manual diesel version
  • It costs £17,500 in mid-table Connect Plus trim

Say hello to the latest addition to the Parkers long-term test fleet: the new Kia Soul.

Looking like some kind of boxy manga cartoon on wheels, Kia pitches the car as a small SUV although it’s certainly no off-roader. In fact, it’s designed with urban driving in mind but its chunky wheels and high driving position are designed to appeal to fans of cars like the Nissan Juke.

Kia Soul rear view

Diesel engine

Engine line-up for the Soul is a straight choice between a 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.6-litre diesel.

We’ve gone for the diesel, and that’s probably the right choice; although I’ve not driven the petrol Soul, my colleagues who have tell me it’s a tad sluggish and noisy and, according to Kia’s fuel figures, thirsty too.

The 126bhp 1.6 CRDi diesel engine in ‘our’ Soul has a claimed average fuel consumption of 56.5mpg (and we’ll see how close it can get to that during our time with the car), while CO2 emissions of 132g/km place it in VED band E (£130 a year at 2014/15 rates).

By comparison, the petrol emits between 158 and 170g/km (depending on which wheels are fitted) and averages up to 41.5mpg. It’s not much quicker either, the petrol getting from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 115mph while the quoted figures for our black-pump Soul are 10.8 seconds and 112mph.

An auto gearbox is available with the diesel engine, but since it makes the car slower, thirstier and more polluting, the manual seemed the more sensible choice.

Kia Soul interior

Connect Plus trim

Our Soul is a Connect Plus model, which sits bang in the middle of the five trim levels available. Kia expects it to be the most popular trim (making up around 35 percent of sales in the UK).

It’s pretty generously equipped: like all Souls, it has air-con, DAB digital radio and USB and aux-in ports. Like the Connect grade below it also gets Bluetooth, front fog lights, a storage box between the front seats and some extra bits of artificial leather and gloss-black plastic in the interior.

What sets the Connect Plus apart from the Connect is the addition of sat-nav, a reversing camera and an upgraded Infinity sound system. Pretty well-equipped all in all then.

The Mixx grade above gets 18-inch alloys but our Connect Plus Soul sits on 17s. That’s probably a good thing in reality as we found the ride a tad harsh on the larger-wheeled test models on the international launch in Sicily. We're hoping these 17-inch wheels will soak up bumps a little better on UK roads.

One thing we have missed out on is the two-tone colour scheme that top-spec Souls enjoy, with contrasting hues for the roof and mirrors. Our Soul is all-white – we considered red but in the end decided it might be a bit too ‘Postman Pat’.

We liked the Soul when we first drove it on the international launch: it’s something a little bit different in a world of cars that are mostly the same.

Over the next few months we’ll find out if that likability factor remains after we’ve put a few miles under its wheels, or whether a bit more familiarity will breed indifference.

Read more about the Kia Soul in our full review here

Mileage on arrival: 513

Fuel economy: n/a