Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

There are three power plants on offer: one petrol and one diesel, both 1.6 litres in capacity, and from the end of 2014 the electric Kia Soul EV (Electric Vehicle). All Kia Souls are front-wheel drive despite their pseudo-SUV looks.

Petrol Kia Soul

The 1.6-litre ‘GDi’ (Gasoline Direct Injection) petrol engine produces 130bhp and can get the Soul from 0-62mph in 11.0 seconds. Top speed for the Soul GDi is 115mph.

On the road it’s a little noisy and sluggish but fuel consumption and emissions are on the high side – see the Running Costs section for details.

Diesel Kia Soul

The 126bhp 1.6-litre ‘CRDi’ (Common Rail Direct injection) diesel engine is endowed with far more torque than the petrol unit (260Nm rather than 161Nm) so it’s easier to make decent progress on the road. Still, performance is adequate rather than sparkling.

Its power delivery becomes a little rough and lumpy if you let the revs drop, but keep the engine spinning and it’s very smooth and impressively quiet, too.

With the manual gearbox the Kia Soul CRDi will get from 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds and go on to a potential top speed of 112mph, while with the automatic gearbox 0-62mph takes 12.2 seconds and top speed is 110mph.

Electric Kia Soul EV

Arriving towards the end of 2014, the battery-powered Soul EV is Kia’s first entrant in the electric car market.

There’s a single electric motor up front, while the lithium-ion batteries are installed under the seats and boot floor. Peak power is 109bhp, while its 285Nm of torque is available as soon as you press the accelerator.

Although the Soul EV’s top speed is limited to 90mph, it completes the 0-60mph sprint in 10.8 seconds making it the quickest in the range.

The ‘real world’ range is likely to be around 90 miles, with the official claim being 132 miles.

Transmission options

As standard, the Kia Soul comes with a six-speed manual gearbox but a six-speed automatic transmission is available with the diesel engine. We found it a very smooth and unobtrusive gearbox – if you don’t notice an automatic at work then it’s doing its job well.

You can expect automatic Kia Soul performance to be slightly more leisurely and fuel consumption to be marginally thirstier.

Choose the Soul EV and like other electric cars it comes with a single-speed automatic gearbox.

This isn’t a car you’d take the long way home for an exciting drive but it’s very easy and friendly to drive. While it’s not in its element on twisty roads it’s nonetheless a safe handling car that doesn’t do anything untoward.

We found that the diesel and EV models had a marginally better ride quality than the petrol versions too, the heavier weight of their components having a positive effect overall.

Like many other Kia models, it’s possible to choose how light or heavy you’d like the power steering to be. There are three levels: Comfort (too light), Sport (too heavy) and Normal (just right).

You get a good view of the road ahead thanks to its high driving position but over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great, thanks to the enormous rear screen pillars, however the side mirrors are usefully large.