Kia Soul

Humanity Reincarnated

"Stylish and practical"

"The Soul owns this segment"

"The interior is the actual and massive development"

"The Kia Soul is larger and more grown up" said Issam 

During one of my trips to Dubai, I dropped by the official distributor of KIA, Juma al Majid Est, to get the new Kia Soul for a couple of days. I rarely take cuteness into account as an automotive feature; styling is the main factor. This factor of cute, though, played a huge role in the considerable success of the first generation Soul, and as a side note, in my opinion, the second generation is on the right path too.

Inspired by the 2012 Kia Track'ster concept, the 2014 Soul introduces a thoroughly fresh, more grown-up appearance, which makes it instantly recognizable as a Soul.  The new vehicle echoes the outgoing model's upright stance, squared shoulders, wraparound greenhouse, high mounted tail lights and confidence-inspiring SUV ride height. The new Soul also features an all new interior, with higher quality materials and a more driver-focused design.

Our test car featured the SUV Styling Pack, featuring a piano black bumper garnish, side skirts, wheel arches and a black painted roof. The new range of Soul accessory kits is designed to enable owners to fully enjoy and exploit the versatility of this unique compact SUV.

A range of new premium features (depending on model) are available: front LED lights and rear LED ‘halo' lights, HID headlights, keyless entry and push-button engine start, automatic climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, leather seat trim, ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, panoramic glass sunroof and heated exterior mirrors.

Buyers are able to choose between three different roof colors: black, white and red, as well as 11 exterior paint finishes.

The second generation Soul is the best in its class for refinement, a result of the car's upgraded suspension, 29 percent stiffer bodyshell and comprehensive soundproofing.  Interior noise levels are reduced by approximately three decibels.

Subtly larger dimensions also mean the new model offers buyers a more practical proposition, with a longer wheelbase and wider track contributing to greater cabin space and cargo capacity. Leg, head and shoulder room are increased for all passengers, while the cargo area is increased by 4 percent to 354 liters (plus additional underfloor storage) with the rear seats upright.

Driving impressions
The biggest technical change for the new Soul is the adoption of an all new platform, based on that of the latest Kia cee'd.  The result is greatly improved ride and handling compared with the outgoing model, as well as more mature and refined on-road behavior.

The new Soul handles much better than before, due to a better chassis and a retuned suspension. The strut front suspension has a relocated roll bar, and the torsion-bar rear has a thicker tube, plus vertical, dual-path shocks for better ride isolation, while overall suspension travel has been increased. Overall, it rides softly and smoothly, yet responds gradually and certainly when needed. The Soul's electric power steering has optional Flex Steer, which lets drivers choose from three settings for steering feel: comfort, normal and sport, though the dissimilarity in feel is tiny.

Environmental performance for the new model is also improved.  The Soul has a new 2.0 liter engine option. This mill has the same bore, stroke and displacement as the old 2.0, but with direct fuel injection rather than port injection. You might expect more performance, but the horsepower ratings for the old and new engines are identical at 164 hp and the direct-injection engine edges its predecessor by 4 Nm in the torque. Engines are carried over from the outgoing model and feature improved efficiency with lower emissions.

After my drive around Dubai, I can confess that Kia once again proved that it really understands its admirers, delivering a second generation Soul with "wow power". It offers just the right amount of tech, comfort and performance at just the right price tag.

Pros: improved cabin selections, spacious interior, enhanced infotainment system
Cons: engine noise
Rivals: Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Mini Countryman, Fiat 500X
One word: emotion


Engine: 2.0L, i4, 164 hp @ 6200 rpm, 205 Nm @ 4000 rpm
6-Speed automatic with manual shifting mode, FWD
0-100 kph: 8.3 sec, top speed: 189 kph, fuel consumption: 10.22 L/ 100 km
Weight: 1412 kg

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