There’s plenty to like about the Searcher: the generous equipment and styling upgrades give it a feelgood factor that is often missing from cars in this class. Adding to the appeal is the spacious interior, with its commanding driving position. However, despite its luxury spec, this flagship special edition isn’t the pick of the Soul line-up. Diesel models further down the range are just as good to drive, but are much more comfortable thanks to their smaller alloys. They are nearly as well equipped and are close to £3,000 cheaper, too.
The high-riding Soul was one of the first beefed-up superminis, and one of the best, as its Issue 1,136 road test victory showed.
Now meet the Searcher special edition, which joins the ‘Originals’ range of personalised Kia Souls, and adds even more visual flair. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but the striking green paintwork, chrome grille and roof rails help
it stand out – as do the 18-inch alloys and rear privacy glass.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Soul
It’s plusher inside, too, with two-tone heated leather seats and plenty of extra standard kit, including an upgraded eight-speaker sound system, parking sensors and auto climate control. Don’t expect quality on a par
with premium brands, though,
as many of the interior plastics feel scratchy and cheap.
On the road, the Kia impresses – and is surprisingly fun to drive. All the major controls are nicely weighted, and while the tall body leans into corners, there’s a lot of grip. Unfortunately, the ride isn’t as good as on previous Souls we have driven, mainly because the larger 18-inch alloys cause the Searcher to crash over broken surfaces. There are benefits to that high-riding stance, though, as the elevated driving position gives a commanding view of the road.
The 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel
isn’t the most refined unit on offer, but with 260Nm of torque, it provides punchy in-gear pace. Economy is good, too, with the Searcher returning 54.3mpg
combined, while it emits only
137g/km of CO2 – meaning
an annual road tax bill of £115.
However, the premium for all this stylish kit is about £3,000 over other 1.6 diesel Souls. And with those cheaper cars being just as good as the Searcher, it’s hard to justify the extra outlay.