Boxy Kia Soul is far from square

The new Kia will make you think out of the box. Photo / APN
The new Kia will make you think out of the box. Photo / APN

If funky and zany are words in your lexicon, then you're probably the sort of person who will warm to the Kia Soul.

The name of the car is apt because this car has oodles of it.

It isn't apparent straight away but in time this funster will grow on you, and no surprise if it does.

It breaks out of the mould of the expected in terms of car design, presenting itself basically as a spacious box on wheels. But really, that's too demeaning a description.

The Soul first showed up here a couple of years ago and then it was available in a reasonable extensive range of variants. Not any more. For whatever reason Kia has unveiled the upgraded model but it's now offering it in one variant only.

The 1.6-litre, with a six-speed auto transmission is all that's available and that's a shame. In late 2009 the market could look at three models, all of them sitting on different sized rims.

And Kia slipped in a dose of the outrageous with the Soul Burner, which got around on bold-as-brass 18-in alloys. They looked as if they were about to explode out of those wheel arches.

The Burner had a turbocharged diesel engine, which gave it some real pizzazz. But even that's gone now. It's the 1.6-litre petrol or the bush.

But it also had mood lighting in the door speakers. It was pure theatre but you could dial in the lighting style to suit the mood of the music.

It was a bit of frivolity that you couldn't help but fall for.

The interesting thing is that though the Soul might be considered a car for the grey wavers, it deserves a broader reach than that.

Sure, its design won't be everyone's cup of tea, but the engine and transmission (now with six speeds rather than four) do the business well enough and if its space you're wanting, then it's the heart of the Soul.

The outside looks the same and little has changed here except for the fitting of LED running lights up front and rear.

It's achieved a five-star ANCAP rating and helping achieve that score is the electronic stability programme (ESP), which incorporates ABS and electronic brake distribution (EBD). The safety standard is rounded out with dual front, side and curtain airbags.

The Soul gets reversing sensors, the electric side mirrors are heated and there are fog lights, front and rear.

On the inside there's the latest array of audio link ins, power windows, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, air conditioning, and remote central locking. There are 340 litres of luggage space with the rear seat in use, but fold the split rear seat down and there's more than 800 litres of room for you.

Out and about the ride and handling earn a pass mark. For such a chunky and squared off sedan it was very well behaved.

The engine and transmission are a good fit for the car too, especially the decision to add a couple of extra ratios to the gearbox.

The Soul may have lost a little of its funkiness in our market with that decision to keep it simple. But that shouldn't detract from what is a pretty competent and certainly unique looking car.

Soul spec

Kia Soul $30,490
Engine: 1.6-litre, 40-cylinder petrol
Power: 95kW at 6300rpm, 157Nm at 4850rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto with Sport shift
Suspension: MacPherson strut (front), coupled torsion beam (rear)
Brakes: Discs (ventilated front)
Safety: ABS, EBD, ESP
How big: 4120mm long, 1785mm wide, 1610mm tall, 2550mm wheelbase
Wheels:15-in steel, 195/65 tyres
Fuel: 48 litres 91 octane

- NZ Herald

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