The Korea Herald


Kia Soul: Great eye candy, iffy performance

Adorable on the outside, but lacking on the inside

By Korea Herald

Published : Jan. 26, 2014 - 19:39

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Behind the Wheel / Kia Soul ― Design: ★★★★★ / Interior: ★★★★ / Engine: ★★★☆ / Fuel economy: ★★★☆☆ / Cost and A/S: ★★★★ Behind the Wheel / Kia Soul ― Design: ★★★★★ / Interior: ★★★★ / Engine: ★★★☆ / Fuel economy: ★★★☆☆ / Cost and A/S: ★★★★

The moment I laid my eyes on the funky, two-toned 2014 Kia Soul hatchback, all I could think was “cute.”

From its rounded boxy edges and red roof to the headlamps and grille that gave the car an unmistakably “toy-like” look, the Kia Soul was the ultimate synonym for “adorable.”

The Soul got a heavy revamp this year, the first since its launch in 2008.

Hoping to grab the attention of those who were already smitten with BMW’s Mini Cooper, the Soul was designed to cater to younger drivers, who Kia hoped would appreciate the funky exterior. That has now been augmented with a much more luxurious cabin, which offers a heated steering wheel and ventilated, cooled front seats, among other perks.

The size of the cabin was also larger than I expected, at least for a compact car.

Visibility was better than most cars in this segment because the driver’s seat is slightly higher than usual. The electronic navigator ― the most important function in a car, in my opinion ― was also a cinch to work.

Prices for the new Soul start at 20.15 million ($18,000) for the high-end line fitted with the 1.6-liter GDi engine that has 132 horsepower. The 1.6-liter VGT diesel engine has 128 horsepower.

But in terms of fuel economy, I was rather disappointed.

While most carmakers are working to make their vehicles more efficient, the 2014 Soul’s fuel economy, at 11.6 kilometers per liter, was lower than the 12 kilometers of the previous model.

Further, while the handling may have improved, the pedals were not easy to use. I had to stomp down pretty hard when I was on the expressway in order to push up the speed and power.

The cabin was also filled with a cacophony of engine and other machine noises. This was a turn-off for me, especially since I’m a beginner driver and uneasy enough as it is without a mechanical orchestra assaulting my ears.

But at the end of the day, Soul is a practical car that would be ideal for running to the store or short commutes.

With a little patience and affection, it may just turn out to be as charming as it looks.

By Bae Ji-sook (