Kia Soul - Soul long, farewell

  • We bid farewell to our trusty Soul, which rounds up its time with many drivers and many positive experiences
  • Mid-spec Connect Plus is definitely the one to have, thanks to excellent sat-nav and infotainment system
  • Diesel engine suits its relaxed nature, though promised 56mpg economy never materialised and 132g/km CO2 doesn’t impress

It’s never fun saying goodbye to a long termer, even one that has passed through many hands in its time here at Parkers. And so it is with ‘our’ Kia Soul, originally run by James Taylor before he moved onto pastures new, but soon became a valued team car thereafter.

And it’s here, as a mode of transport used by all, that the Soul really proved its worth. It’s testament to its all-round ability that anyone awarded the keys for the night, airport run or even weekend jaunt did so without any trepidation.

That’s partly down to its looks which James originally referred to as ‘some kind of boxy manga cartoon on wheels’ – it’s certainly one of the most distinctive cars in the segment. And when Van Editor, Liam Campbell, compared it to the competition, it was clear the Kia won on styling at the very least.

It was Liam that was the Soul’s biggest critic though, citing an image target that missed the mark, trying to appeal to the young but more likely to be bought by an older clientele. As James remarked, had we opted for a different specification with contrasting roof and body kit to help it stand out a bit more, that might have been different.

That said everyone was impressed with the specification level on our mid-table Connect Plus trim, which comes with the sat-nav, reversing camera and upgraded Infinity stereo. All of which were superb – personally I think the sat-nav displays clear graphics and the stereo sounds fantastic.

In fact if you ask me the cabin of the Soul is one of its strongest attributes, and not just for the space freed up by its boxy silhouette; as far as I’m concerned the quality inside punches far higher than its pricelist would have you believe. Soft touch materials abound, and the contrast coloured stitching is reminiscent of the attention to detail found in vehicles costing many times as much.

James in particular agreed, though Senior Staff Writer Debbie Wood was the only one impressed by the mood lighting around the speakers. Though she was listening to her Clubland Greatest Hits album at the time, so I’m not sure that counts.

Keith Jones wished there was more light of a different sort in the cabin, having driven the Soul EV with its paler material shades making it feel even more spacious, while the digital instrument displays adding an extra sense of modernity.

And it was in the fun department that the Soul struggled to be honest, with Keith feeling it toed the party line too much and failed to offer a distinctive enough experience behind the wheel to back up the promising looks. It’s not that it was bad, and indeed he claimed the diesel engine had a sensible mix of usable performance and decent real world economy, while feeling comfortable to scoot about in – whether in town or on the motorway.

I’d agree with James and Liam that the engine could have done with a bit more get-up-and-go from low revs though, as it could feel a little lethargic. And though the Soul proved acceptably economical in the real world, its on-paper figures don’t set it out against its closest rivals. 

No one had an issue with space though, and it was a pleasant surprise to find here was supermini that could genuinely fit four adults without a squeeze, and even a decent amount of luggage too. Deputy Road Test Editor Gareth Evans used it as race support for a weekend at Silverstone once too, finding all of his kit fitted in with ease – and despite racing a sports car on circuit cited the Soul as a good drive too.

Now we’re not going to be driving it any longer, as it’s gone back to Kia and is likely now in the dealer network or already in the hands of its new owner, but while that’s just not fun – we’ll always have the memories. 

Mileage: 4,144 miles

Fuel economy: 40.4mpg