It’s a humid Monday morning in Dublin’s fair city with the Royal Hospital Kilmainham providing the perfect backdrop for the launch of the all-new Kia Soul. Kia has made huge progress across all segments over the last few years and they are certainly no longer considered the cheap and cheerful of the bunch. Now when you think Kia you think affordable, good looking and a reliable alternative to the many marques available on Irish roads. Kia’s renowned seven-year warranty helped build customer confidence and as the design department has dramatically improved, so have the customer numbers entering the showrooms. Back in 2008 Kia came out with a radical compact SUV called the Soul, which certainly turned heads. The quirky looks were almost Marmite like as people either loved or hated it. We never had the opportunity to test the first generation Soul but today we have the keys of the all-new variant.
Inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept this funky SUV is now available in two models across Ireland. Both models are powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine that produces 128hp. The EX model is the more basic of the two but you still wont be disappointed with the level of kit available as standard. For €24,495 you get 17-inch Alloy Wheels, Bluetooth, Cruise Control/Speed Limiter, Climate Control with automatic air con and a rear view camera. In Platinum trim you can add 18-inch Alloys, Sat Nav, Leather upholstery with heated front seats, electrically adjustable drivers seat a panoramic sunroof and an Infinity sound system, which packs real punch! These extras send the price tag up to €28,495 but in our opinion it’s warranted for that level of kit. Although similar in looks to its predecessor the Soul is entirely new with new panels, a new interior and indeed a new platform. This model is based on the successful Kia cee’d and better in many ways such as rigidity, exterior visibility and overall handling. It’s larger too with the length increased by 20 mm to 4,140 mm the width a further 15 mm to 1,800 mm and a 10mm drop in height to 1,600 mm. This makes it more practical than the outgoing version.
Driving the Soul was pleasurable in many ways. The quirky looks demand attention and onlookers generally smile in admiration at Kia’s latest creation. The 1,582cc engine produces 260Nm of torque from low down in the power range between 1,900 and 2,750rpm meaning take off bursts are spirited to the say the least. The wider, lower track inspires confidence around the tight corners through the streets of Dublin 8 and steering input is well received as turn lock to lock in tight parking spaces. The brakes also feel powerful thanks to the ventilated 280mm front discs and 262mm rears. Stopping time from 100kp/h to 0 is a rib squeezing 35.5 meters meaning you are in safe hands!
Our drive was short but enjoyable and I’m already looking to spend more time with the SUV later in the year. For those of you looking for the alternative SUV might I suggest a test drive in the new Soul. Those of you that prefer something a little more understated then drive a Sportage. You won’t be disappointed.
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