KIA bares its Soul

The arrival of the 2012 Soul, with its six-speed automatic transmission and 2.0 petrol engine (new to this line), gives KIA’s cubemobile line an added lift. All the vehicles in this line have received an upgrade from the four-speed automatic transmission to the six-speed transmission, in both automatic and manual.

The Soul is very popular in many countries, especially the US. The elderly like it for its easy exit and entry while the youth like it for its looks. The new Soul comes with a subtly nuanced and improved look, from a new grille in the front to new taillights in the back, with improved side mirrors and wheels in between.

It also comes with a new and improved engine, a 122kW/260Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine. The line still has the 1.6-litre Gamma engine available, but it has been improved to get an additional five kW and one Nm. The 1.6-litre diesel comes in three models. All have six-speed transmissions and two optional equipment levels.

New features inside the car include additional noise reduction and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. It also comes with a leather cover on the steering wheel and a storage tray under the floor. However, gone is the light over the speakers that kept time with the music.

The entire line comes with standard safety features such as ABS, traction control, BA, EDP, ESP, and curtain, side and front airbags, but the safety has been beefed up with the addition of hill-start control and vehicle stability management (VSM).

We test drove the new Soul and its new engine through the countryside of Korea and in heavy city traffic. The power of the engine wanted to be unleashed, but the cameras restrained us.

At 110 km/hr, the engine turned at only 2000 rpm, suggesting good petrol efficiency. Officially, the usage is 7.5 litres/100 km. The 1.6-liter petrol engine gets 6.5 with the manual transmission and 7.3 with the automatic transmission, while the diesel gets 5.2 and 5.9 respectively.

The Soul retained its wonderful suspension and steering, making for a comfortable ride and great handling. It rides on 225/46 silicon tyres fitted to 18-inch alloy wheels which helps to improve its road handling and petrol usage. Overall, the car was a wonderful driving sensation.

The car is widely popular for good reason. It is beautiful, handles well and has a full array of features. It is safe and has great economy. No other car comes even close to it. KIA should be proud of its new, improved Soul.