Sunday, 18 March 2018

Kia Soul crosses over into cool-car territory

WHAT a cool car the Kia Soul has become. I’m not saying I felt that way about it at the

WHAT a cool car the Kia Soul has become. I’m not saying I felt that way about it at the outset but it is evolving into a very cool customer with driveability to match.

The new, second-generation version of the Soul is the compact crossover that started Kia’s design renaissance in the UK.

It delivers new SUV crossover styling, more space in a higher-quality cabin, enhanced safety and has better driving dynamics thanks to a new chassis based on that of the Kia cee’d.

The new Soul is available with a choice of two efficient engines and five trim levels. It draws extensively from Kia’s highly praised Track’ster concept car from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.

The first Soul from 2008 demonstrated Kia could design and engineer cars, which were different but without losing focus on practicality and value for money.

The Soul went on to become a top five car in its class and market leader in the United States and China. In 2012, the last full year the original model was in production, Kia sold almost 165,000 units, despite the arrival of several newer competitors.

The new model arrives at a time when it aims to take advantage of the boom in the compact crossover market. Annual sales of this type of car in Western Europe are forecast to rise from around 380,000 in 2013 to more than 600,000 by 2015. Just over a quarter of buyers are British.

All versions are front-wheel-drive five-door crossovers — Kia research has shown that while buyers desire the appearance, semi-elevated driving position and perceived safety advantages of a 4x4, they do not want the higher fuel consumption and taxation that four-wheel drive entails. As with the previous model, the new Soul offers buyers a choice of efficient 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol and turbodiesel engines tuned for effortless driving flexibility.

The diesel Soul has CO2 emissions as low as 132g/km and fuel economy as high as 56.5mpg. Kia has already announced that towards the end of 2015 there will be a fully-electric version of the car, called Soul EV — the company’s first global commercial EV — with zero tailpipe emissions.

There are three regular trim lines — Start, Connect and Connect Plus — which are joined by the Soul Mixx and Soul Maxx, with even more extrovert styling and higher levels of technology than ever before.

• Bigger, roomier, all-new second-generation model

• Even more dramatic styling

• Five trim levels

• DAB radio fitted as standard across Soul line-up

• Design cues taken from Track’ster concept car

• Enhanced driving dynamics thanks to new cee’d-based chassis

• Priced from just £12,600

By NIGEL WIGMORE, Standard motoring correspondent

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