Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Kia Soul review

The latest Kia Soul keeps the chunky looks of the previous model, but improves practicality and equipment

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Practical shape, long warranty, unique looks
  • Not that economical, bumpy ride on larger wheels

The Kia Soul arrived in 2008 with looks that divided opinions, and the second generation Soul hasn’t done anything to significantly change that. However there’s no doubt the restyle has brought a bit more contemporary sparkle to the model, and it’s roomier and more practical too.

On the road the Soul offers decent handling, but sadly the engine line-up leaves a little to be desired. The petrol engine is thirsty, and the diesel clattery – two failings that rival crossover models have addressed much better. The Soul gives away a crash-test star to many of its rivals, too.

Best crossovers

In its favour, the Kia Soul is well-priced, well-specified and feels well-built. It should be reliable, and comes with an industry-leading warranty.

We were treated to the original Kia Soul way back in 2008. It offered a distinctive alternative to the scores of mini-MPVs out there, but its divisive styling meant it was never a sales hit, despite a decent drive and practical interior.

The second-generation model aims to change that, though. The exterior styling is even bigger and bolder than before - it's based on the Track'ster concept from the 2013 Chicago Motor Show - but the boxy dimensions and interesting details have aged well and look positively funky compared to the Cee'd hatchback on which it's based. The Cee'd platform means it's even roomier and better to drive than before, and now the Soul is a credible alternative to other funky crossovers like the Nissan Juke and Citroen C4 Cactus, but with the practicality to rival the Renault Captur and Skoda Yeti.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Buyers of the Soul have the choice of three 1.6-litre engines - two petrols and one diesel. The standard petrol offers up 130bhp, while the diesel has 126bhp, and promises lower running costs. Kia also offers a turbocharged 201bhp variant, known as the Soul Sport.

There's also an electric Kia Soul EV, which tackles the likes of the Hyundai IoniqBMW i3 and Nissan Leaf. It has a reasonable range, and is priced similarly to its rivals - but it feels a bit old-fashioned next to newer models.

Kit levels are pretty generous across across the trim levels, previously known as Start, Connect, Connect Plus, Mixx and Maxx, but now rationalised to 1, 2 and 3 - though the Sport gets its own trim.

The entry-level 1 is only offered with the 130bhp petrol engine and a manual gearbox, while only the diesel and Sport are available with an automatic, the Sport exclusively. Whichever Soul you choose, they all benefit from Kia's seven-year warranty.

Advertisement
Advertisement

More on Soul

Visit/kia/soul/66726/new-kia-soul-ev-2020-review
Kia Soul EV
28 Feb 2020

New Kia Soul EV 2020 review

The all-electric Kia Soul EV combines quirky design with enormous capability
Visit/kia/soul/84698/kia-soul-used-buyers-guide
Used Kia Soul - front
Kia Soul Hatchback
1 Aug 2019

Used Kia Soul review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Kia Soul covering the Soul Mk2 (2014-2019)
Visit/kia/soul/106109/new-kia-soul-ev-pricing-and-specification-announced
Kia Soul EV - front
Kia Soul EV
5 Jul 2019

New Kia Soul EV: pricing and specification announced

Following its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, a launch edition version of the all-electric Kia Soul is now on sale priced from £33,795
Advertisement
Visit/kia/soul/ev
Kia Soul EV
Kia Soul EV
7 Jan 2019

Kia Soul EV review

The Kia Soul EV is an urban commuter car that’s cheap as chips to run, but comes with a hefty price tag
Visit/kia/soul/105239/new-2019-kia-soul-ev-revealed-at-la-motor-show
Kia Soul - LA Motor Show - front
Kia Soul
29 Nov 2018

New 2019 Kia Soul EV revealed at LA Motor Show

The covers have come off the third-generation Kia Soul, with the UK only likely to get the Soul EV when it goes on sale next year
Visit/kia/soul/99768/new-kia-soul-sport-2017-review
Kia Soul Sport - front
Kia Soul Hatchback
15 Jun 2017

New Kia Soul Sport 2017 review

The Kia Soul has received a performance upgrade, but the new Sport model struggles to convince
Visit/kia/soul/96763/kia-soul-ev-best-tax-free-cars
Kia Soul EV
Kia Soul
3 Apr 2017

Kia Soul EV - best tax-free cars

Even before you consider its tax-free merits, Kia’s Soul EV appeals with its long kit list and seven-year warranty
Visit/kia/soul/86188/kia-soul-ev-best-electric-cars
Opinion Kia Soul EV
Kia Soul
28 Oct 2016

Kia Soul EV - Best electric cars

If you're looking for an affordable electric crossover, Kia's Soul EV is a fine option
Visit/kia/soul/97292/kia-cars-to-drive-off-and-park-themselves-within-5-years
Kia soul EV autonomous parking
Kia Soul
5 Oct 2016

Kia cars to drive off and park themselves within 5 years

Autonomous self-parking tech will be available on new Kias by 2021 and we’ve seen it in action
Advertisement
Visit/kia/soul/97173/new-201bhp-kia-soul-arrives-in-paris-2016
Kia Soul - Paris front
Kia Soul
29 Sep 2016

New 201bhp Kia Soul arrives in Paris 2016

New warm Kia Soul with punchy turbo and DCT gearbox makes its public debut, plus updates to the Carens MPV
Visit/kia/soul/96049/kia-soul-recalled-in-uk-to-prevent-possible-steering-failure
Kia Soul
21 Jun 2016

Kia Soul recalled in UK to prevent possible steering failure

Kia announces recall of all Soul and Soul EV models made between 2014 and 2015 as a precaution, fault could cause loss of steering
Advertisement
Visit/kia/soul/93934/kia-reveals-drive-wise-sub-brand-for-autonomous-tech
Kia Drive wise
Kia Soul
6 Jan 2016

Kia reveals Drive Wise sub-brand for autonomous tech

New Drive Wise brand, revealed at CES 2016, will be used on Kia's upcoming self-driving tech including the Soul EV
Visit/kia/soul/89971/long-term-test-review-kia-soul-ev
Kia Soul Hatchback
4 Sep 2015

Long-term test review: Kia Soul EV

Final report: Electric car spends a week on long-distance commute before leaving fleet
Visit/kia/soul/89965/kia-soul-ev-vs-bmw-i3
Kia Soul vs BMw i3
Kia Soul Hatchback
7 Jan 2015

Kia Soul EV vs BMW i3

Kia is the latest manufacturer to enter the all-electric small car market with its new Soul EV. Can it take the fight to the BMW i3?
Visit/kia/soul/88576/kia-soul-mixx-and-maxx-launched
Kia Soul Mixx and Maxx
Kia Soul
15 Sep 2014

Kia Soul Mixx and Maxx launched

High-spec Mixx and Maxx trims are now available for the Kia Soul, costing from £18,150
Advertisement
Visit/kia/soul/87225/kia-soul-vs-peugeot-2008-vs-renault-captur
Kia Soul
29 May 2014

Kia Soul vs Peugeot 2008 vs Renault Captur

Kia’s new Soul has carried over the original’s angular looks, but has grown – and it’s gunning for the top crossovers
Visit/kia/sportage/86963/kia-recall-7000-soul-and-sportage-models-called-back
Kia recall: 7,000 Soul and Sportage models called back
Kia Sportage SUV
9 May 2014

Kia recall: 7,000 Soul and Sportage models called back

Kia recall on Soul and Sportage models for check on seatbelt pre-tensioner
Visit/kia/soul/86767/kia-soul-16-crdi-diesel-review
Kia Soul Hatchback
25 Apr 2014

Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi diesel review

We try quirky new Kia Soul CRDi diesel, likely to be the top-selling version in the range
Visit/kia/soul/86561/new-kia-soul-2014-prices-and-specs-revealed
Kia Soul 1.6 GDi 2014 front action
Kia Soul
9 Apr 2014

New Kia Soul 2014 prices and specs revealed

Kia reveal prices and specs for the 2014 Soul, with prices starting at £12,600 for the new compact SUV
Visit/kia/soul/86551/kia-soul-16-gdi-review
Kia Soul 1.6 GDi 2014 front tracking
Kia Soul Hatchback
9 Apr 2014

Kia Soul 1.6 GDi review

First UK drive of the all-new Kia Soul, a car that combines supermini size with SUV styling
Visit/kia/soul/66298/new-kia-soul-2014-review
Kia Soul Hatchback
20 Mar 2014

New Kia Soul 2014 review

Chunky looks remain, but the new Kia Soul 2014 is bigger and more grown up
Advertisement
Visit/kia/soul/20635/2009-2013-hatchback
Kia Soul front cornering
Kia Soul Hatchback
18 Jul 2013

Kia Soul review (2009-2013)

The Kia Soul supermini MPV remains a niche choice, despite a facelift in 2011
Visit/kia/soul/60007/kia-soul-owners-youtube-protest
Kia Soul Hatchback
3 Sep 2012

Kia Soul owner’s YouTube protest

Frustrated Kia Soul owner takes to YouTube to tell Kia that “you can do better”