Kia Soul: Screentesting

  • Eight-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard
  • It’s mostly user-friendly but does have a few niggles
  • Dodgy DAB disappoints but package impresses overall

I’ve already made it clear that I’m a big fan of the Kia Soul’s interior but there’s one aspect that dominates its dashboard – that giant touchscreen. Let’s take a closer look at what it does well and not so well.

First of all it’s big. Measuring eight inches corner to corner there’s no missing it, and that’s a good thing because it makes it easier to prod the right bit when you’re driving. So often in cars with smaller touchscreens pressing the function you’re after becomes a nightmare on bumpy roads.

What does the touchscreen control?

The radio, your own music (there’s no CD player but you can play tunes via USB port or Bluetooth streaming), sat-nav and telephone functions.

While some cars have a secondary rotary controller to control the screen, pretty much all the Soul’s commands require a prod with a finger rather than the turn of a dial. That’s a little bit annoying – choosing the phone contact you’re after means repeatedly dragging your finger laboriously up the screen, and likewise choosing from the list of radio presets.

Kia Soul dashboard

It’s a task that could be made far simpler if you were able to use the right-hand dial (opposite the volume knob) to scroll through the list but its sole purpose seems to be to change the radio frequency or music track – a usability opportunity lost.

Happily Kia hasn’t migrated the air-con controls to the touchscreen too as in Keith’s Peugeot 308 long-termer. They’re still operated by physical buttons and dials and the car’s all the better for it.

Danger, danger

Every time you switch the ignition on a message is displayed telling you to drive safely and avoid watching the screen while the car’s in motion, which won’t go away until you need to press ‘Agree’. Usually you forget about this message until you’ve set off and, ironically, become distracted by it.

A pop-up screen that is welcome, though, is a list of recently entered sat-nav suggestions. When you fire up the sat-nav it automatically brings up a list of your most recent destinations, a thoughtful touch that often saves time.

Kia Soul screen

Digital DAB radio is fitted to every new Kia Soul, which is great, but there are a few niggles. It’s prone to losing signal and if you swap to FM radio or your own music, when you return to the DAB function it forgets which station you were listening to last and reverts to the highest stored preset, so you’ll need to retune.

Despite those niggles the Soul’s touchscreen is one of the better ones I’ve experienced in a car. It looks attractive, it’s mostly user-friendly and the large scale makes it less distracting than some.

Mileage: 1,592 miles

Fuel economy: 42.5mpg (calculated)