Kia Soul v Skoda Roomster

Can Kia’s new Soul knock out Skoda’s Roomster in a battle of chunky, funky superminis?

Are you ready for Kia to bear its soul? The Korean firm is out to attract younger, more fashion-conscious buyers with its trendy Soul supermini, and now is the time to see if it’s in tune with the needs of small-car buyers...

Described by company bosses as an ‘urban crossover’, the newcomer features chunky SUV styling cues, together with supermini-MPV proportions and practicality. Over the years, Kia has built a strong reputation for producing sensible, reliable and well priced machines. Even better has been its aftersales care, which includes the industry’s only seven-year warranty, available on the Cee’d compact family car.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Soul

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But the manufacturer now wants to appeal to buyers with desirability as well as value. So, taking the successful MINI and Fiat 500 as its inspiration, the Soul aims to attract customers with a range of stylish personalisation options. A further boost is Kia’s link-up with British sports car firm Lotus. Engineers at the Norfolk company have tuned the Soul’s chassis to deliver the optimum mix of ride and handling for British roads.

So has Kia managed to create a small family car with character? We’ve lined it up against the quirky Skoda Roomster Scout in order to find out. Both of our contenders are range-topping diesel-engined versions, with generous standard specification and an eye-catching exterior finish. But do they offer any real advantage over a standard supermini?

Verdict

Choosing a small family car has never been harder. Models such as the Soul and Roomster have blurred the lines between sectors, giving buyers a seemingly endless list of options.

The Skoda is a machine which serves up supermini running costs and exterior dimensions, but with a cabin that features genuine MPV practicality. If you can live with the ungainly styling and uncouth drivetrain, then it makes a lot of sense.

The Kia can’t match this ultimate versatility, but it still features a spacious and well laid-out cabin. Furthermore, its distinctive shape makes it stand out from conventional superminis – although we’d steer clear of the Burner’s bold graphics. Better still, the Soul’s smooth engine blends decent performance with excellent economy. Factor in the superior warranty and the newcomer takes a deserving victory.

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