New Kia Soul 2014 review

20 Mar, 2014 11:45am Owen Mildenhall

Chunky looks remain, but the new Kia Soul 2014 is bigger and more grown up


The new Kia Soul 2014 blends the solid build quality, generous standard kit and composed driving manners we’ve come to expect from Kia with bold styling and quirky detailing. It’ll be interesting to see if the new Soul captures the young buyers the first model struggled to attract in the UK. More comfortable, better to drive and smarter - the new car improves on its predecessor in every way and is a characterful addition to the Kia range. Some rivals are more practical, but the Soul is a likeable and distinctive choice.

The new Kia Soul 2014 arrives next month with the advertising slogan ‘totally transformed’. But at first glance you’d be excused if you missed it. However look closer and you’ll spot that, while it’s instantly recognisable as a Soul, the newcomer is completely new.

Bigger and more grown up than before, the new Soul shares a platform with the Cee'd hatch, but retains the curved A-Pillars, floating roof and boxy dimensions that raised eyebrows on the launch of the original in 2008. Overall length has increased by 20mm, it’s 15mm wider and 10mm lower - and it now looks more self confident in its funky SUV inspired body.

Full UK prices have yet to be announced but they’ll range from just over £12,000 to £20,000 across a choice of five trims – Start, Connect, Connect Plus, Mixx and Maxx.

Kia Soul 2014 interior

The last two get an Urban Styling Pack that adds to the bold looks with gloss black trim treatment on the bumpers, side skirts and wheelarches. Mixx models can be specified with a choice of four two-tone designs with coloured roofs, while the flagship Maxx gets a panoramic glass roof. Top spec models also get 18-inch wheels.

Inside, the cabin has taken a step upmarket with a redesigned dash, modern switchgear and deep-set TFT dials. As with all Kia’s latest models, the layout is straightforward, build quality is excellent and kit levels are generous. Top-spec models come with excellent touch-screen navigation and a high-end audio system, while piano black inserts brighten up the cabin even further.

There’s a wide range of wheel and seat movement, and with thinner A-Pillars, visibility is better than the old car. Thanks to the 20mm longer wheelbase there’s enough room in the back for adults to sit comfortably, but the middle seat is narrow and the rear seats don’t slide or do anything clever - there’s just a traditional 60/40 split/fold set up. On the plus side, boot volume has grown to 354 litres, the tailgate is wider and there’s a handy under floor storage area.

Kia Soul 2014 pan

When it comes to the driving experience the Soul has the same well-enginered ease of driving and composed handling as the Cee'd. With a 29 per cent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the outgoing car and upgraded sub-frame bushings, it’s better to drive and more refined.

Kia’s Flex Steer system gives you a button on the wheel to switch between Sport, Normal and Sport steering modes, but while weighting increases a bit, there’s little real difference in feedback or feel. However, the Soul turns in positively enough, and in spite of the raised SUV stance, body control is decent. The six-speed manual gearbox has a light but pleasant shift action, and from Connect trim onwards there’s the choice of a six-speed auto, as well.

Offered with a 131bhp 1.6-litre petrol or 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine, the well-proven CRDi diesel tested is noisy at idle, but on the move, road and engine noise is well isolated from the cabin, especially if you keep the diesel in the mid-range, where performance is adequate enough to ensure the Soul feels relatively eager.

Kia Soul 2014 rear static

The old Soul had a disappointingly firm ride and the new car’s base set-up is more compliant, although the large 18-inch wheels thump into imperfections, upsetting the Kia’s composure somewhat. But in spite of a smooth stop/start system, perhaps the biggest disappointment is the relatively high 125g/km emissions, which rise to 158g/km if you choose the automatic.

However, the often over looked Soul has been bought bang up to date and is a now a far tougher rival for cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

Disqus - noscript

"the high standard kit list and value for money seen on Kia’s other products will make the Soul appealing – especially to those looking for a quirky, better value alternative to the Cee’d or even the VW Golf"
Given Autoexpress unbridled love for VW products, I must say that praise doesn't come any higher than this. As far as the car is concerned I'm not a fan but my cousin told me its all the rage in the States.

It's ugly & expect the naff Faux Leather seats and nasty hard plastics et al.

Oh what about the 7 year warranty, I ask who keeps a car more than about 4 or 5? I don't.

I would never buy this car, it's awful.

All the pun intended, I think it lost its soul.

God this is an ugly brute!

The long warranty is just a clever marketing trick with Kia/Hyundai. They are basically 3 year warranties. After the 3 years there are many get-out clauses, and items that are not covered. Its a cunning way of making Korean cars seem higher quality than they really are. Its a selling point and many buyers are taken in by it.

If it were all that easy, all manufacturers would be copying it. But they don't. Why do you think that is?

Maybe the fact that small turbo engines commonly have reliability issues above 35000 M has something to do with it?

Did you even bother to READ this review, much less others on the new Soul? (No need to answer that since it is a rhetoric ?)

The interior is much improved on the predecessor and is quite nice.

As for "ugly" - the xB, Element, Cube were all on the uglier side.

And yet, Hyundai and Kia have higher CSI scores/ratings for service/repair than their Japanese competitors.

DId YOU? More than likely not because the version reviewed wasn't the UK spec version, Not that the beginning of the last paragraph starts: UK specs are not yet confirmed.

So expect an inferior specification.

I stand by my comments that the car is ugly and will almost undoubtedly have awful plastics, faux leathers seats just like the god damned awful Sportage, suffer just as poor engine which will lack any form of refinement whatsoever.

I would suggest from the way they you try to big up the Soul, that you are yet another member of the worst car forum in the UK, Kiaownersclub, where any form of fun & banter or criticism of the brand is strictly disallowed.

This car was ugly at its launch.
Nothing has changed.

That nose needs Plastic surgery!


Version 1 of the Soul was, to my mind, an ugly duckling with mediocre specs. But it was the quirky looks of the 2014 model that caught my eye and attracted my interest. The 2014 model and features now checks my boxes in ways that the earlier models would not have.

Many cars in this class represent compromise of some kind. I am looking to down size from Mondeo Estate and I don't think I have to sacrifice much to go with the Soul. The person that takes a closer look at the Soul may well warm to it, and if they do not there are plenty more fish in the sea. Build quality and attention to detail are good, the cabin is spacious for such compact exterior dimensions, and the driving dynamics, I thought, were excellent.

The petrol engine lacked punch unless you stir it up a bit, I thought, while the diesel is refined when cruising suburbia and picks up its feet if you ask it too. Manual or automatic are more down to personal preference; each are excellent. None of the colour options truly thrill me. Black or white are OK visually but soon show the muck. I prefer the two tone cloth option interiors over leather or single tone black.

In Start and Connect models the sound of the audio was below what I would expect in car this good. In the Connect Plus and above the Infinity audio system significantly surpassed my expectations.

So, it's diesel, manual, in Connect Plus trim for me. That meets my needs and appeals to my desires. Two tone cloth interior is on my wish list too, and that points the way of Titanium Silver for the exterior colour. I think the 17 inch wheels look and ride better over the 18's.

I still perceive the Souls styling as quirky, but for me the 2014 enhancements and details are a big improvement. The former ugly duckling has plumage swank enough to rank as cool. The peculiar styling sways me, and neither the Capture nor the Juke do it for me.

I side with this Auto Express review. For the first time in my life I may well be induced to order a new car.

Key specs

  • Price: £19,250 (est)
  • Engine: 1.6-litre, 4cyl diesel
  • Power: 126bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • 0-62mph: 12.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 110mph
  • Economy: 52mpg (est)
  • CO2: 125g/km
  • Equipment: 18-inch wheels, panoramic roof, navigation, climate control, DAB, Bluetooth and reversing camera
  • On sale: April 2014