Kia's been one of the UK’s fastest-growing car brands in recent years, thanks to the huge strides it’s made in quality and design.
Models such as the Soul have lifted the company above the masses in terms of style; this smart small hatch blends great-value reliability with real panache.
If you’re searching for a car that’s easy to own, take a closer look; all Souls currently have some warranty left. The first came with five years’ cover, and from January 2010 this was upped to seven years. Not that you’ll need it...
The Soul hit UK dealers in spring 2009 with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines, both fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard. The CRDi had a four-speed auto option. Buyers could choose between four trim levels – 1, 2, Samba and Shaker – plus there was a launch special edition called the Burner. A facelift in October 2011 brought cleaner, more powerful engines and a six-speed manual gearbox, along with higher-quality interior trim and more standard kit. LED daytime running lights and a redesigned nose were added at the same time – but, as before, all Souls were front-wheel drive.
If you’re after a practical and distinctively styled family hatch, the short-lived and controversial Nissan Cube might suit. However, there’s an element of style over substance with this boxy model. More mainstream is the Citroen C3 Picasso – a superbly practical family car with brilliant engines and a cavernous boot. The Skoda Yeti has topped our Driver Power satisfaction survey for the past two years (and came second in 2011). It’s fabulous to live with, yet more expensive than the Soul. Its Roomster stablemate offers many of the Yeti’s talents at lower prices.
|1.6 GDi Quantum||15||44mpg||149g/km||£140|
|1.6 CRDi 2||17||54mpg||137g/km||£125|
|1.6 CRDi auto||14-19||47mpg||155g/km||£175|
|1.6 CRDi Hunter||17||57mpg||129g/km||£105|
|1.6 CRDi Burner||18||54mpg||137g/km||£125|
All Souls need to be serviced every 12 months; for petrol cars there’s a 10,000-mile limit, while diesels stretch this to 12,500 miles. Stick with a main dealer and you’ll pay from £150-£300 to service a petrol Soul – although the sixth check-up will cost you £500 (as the coolant is replenished as part of this) while the eighth is around £375. Diesels are generally cheaper to maintain, with services pegged at £165-£290, the latter for the sixth. As both engines are chain-driven, no new cambelts are ever needed for the Soul, while the brake fluid must be replaced every two years; expect to pay £45 for this.