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Kia Soul 3 
Location: Wodonga, Victoria (copyright image)

The Kia Soul 3 has 18" alloy wheels.

Kia Soul 3 (copyright image)

Soul 2 and 3 share the seating design.

Stephen Walker with the 
Kia Soul (copyright image)

Stephen Walker with the Soul in Melbourne.

Kia Soul 3 (copyright image)

The instruments 'light up' when the ignition is "on".

Kia Soul 3 (copyright image)

The Kia Soul in historic Chiltern, Victoria.

Kia Soul 3 (copyright image)

The Soul 3 has a colourful treatment to the glove box and the neat little 'pigeon hole' in the centre of the dashboard.

Kia Soul 3 
Location: Chiltern, Victoria (copyright image)

Again, the Kia Soul in Chiltern, Victoria.

Kia Soul 3 (copyright image)

The speakers located in the front doors of Soul 3 have a unique feature. They have "mood" lighting which is 'set' by a switch on the dashboard. The above image shows what happens when Buddy Holly sings his hit song "Heartbeat"!

Kia Soul 3 
Location: Wodonga, Victoria (copyright image)

Note the wide tailgate on the Kia Soul.

By the way, additional Kia Soul road tests are coming along very soon. Keep your eye on Next Car.


ROAD TEST:   Kia Soul 3   (diesel/automatic)

by Stephen Walker

20th May, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Kia > Soul

Consumer interest is always going to be high when an all-new model comes along. Such is the case with the new Kia Soul, which is now available throughout Australia.

The new Soul is offered in three trim levels; Soul, Soul 2 and Soul 3.

With few direct competitors, if any, the new Kia Soul is likely to be the most interesting car to be introduced this year. It's a small car, just 4,105 mm long, making it quite easy to manoeuvre.

Power is provided by a choice between a 1.6 litre petrol engine and a 1.6 litre diesel. A choice of manual or automatic transmission is available with either engine choice. Although the base model is not available with the diesel engine and Soul 3 is not available with manual transmission.

Our test car, on this occasion, is the Kia Soul 3 (the top of the line) fitted with the diesel engine and automatic transmission. This engine/transmission choice proved to be an excellent combination.

Our drive of the Cocktail Orange example of the Soul 3 was a longer experience than usual. We drove this car from Sydney to Melbourne. In total, we covered some 1,056 kms in this Kia Soul.

The trip, which included an overnight stay along the way, was a very pleasant one. Numerous factors made it so. We'll cover these aspects, so our experience on this Kia Soul road test is shared.

The interior is well laid out and, being a five-seater, offers good accommodation for four adults.

Mechanically, the front-wheel drive Kia Soul is quite conventional. The test car's German designed 1.6 litre diesel engine provides 94 kW of power at 4,000 rpm. The torque rating is 260 Nm at 1,900 rpm. Having previously driven both the petrol and diesel version, I must say that I have a distinct preference for the better performance that is supplied by the diesel engine. Whilst not a performance car by any measure, the handy manner in which the turbo diesel approaches the business of get-up and go is quite admirable for such a small car. Braking is performed by 4 wheel disc brakes on both the Soul 2 and Soul 3 (the base model Soul has a disc/drum set-up). Electric power steering is standard on each Soul model. The automatic transmission is a four-speed unit.

Economy from the diesel is, as expected, outstanding. On the combined cycle, the Kia Soul diesel/auto is expected to use just 5.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. This is one more reason why I like the diesel!

The Soul diesel provides an opportunity to save the planet, too. On the combined cycle again, the emission rating is a credible 155 grammes per kilometre. Another way to save Earth, which is overlooked by many "experts", is to, simply, plant more trees! But with the Kia Soul using fuel economically and by emitting low amounts of pollution, this new model does offer ecological responsibility with its acquisition.

On the inside, the seating and roominess of the interior provide a pleasing environment. Although the driver's seat does not feature lumbar support, the seating is reasonably comfortable. The interior of the Kia Soul 3 has a number of colourful aspects. Just check our images (to the right) to see the glove box treatment and the standard "mood" lighting for the Soul 3 front door speakers. But the best feature of the new Kia Soul is the elevated driving position, which provides an easy means for entry and egress. You virtually slide in and out of the Soul, as it is just so easy. This aspect should not be overlooked because such seating is said to be a major attraction to those who buy an SUV. So the Soul has this popular feature, but without the high fuel usage that is associated with driving an SUV.

Whilst boot space isn't plentiful, it seems to be adequate. The flat floor is positioned below the loading lip and the tailgate is wide (or is it a hatchback?). The rear seat backrest/s can be lowered, but only when unoccupied!

The spare wheel is of the space saver variety, with a steel rim.

Soul 3 has, as standard, six airbags and ESP (electronic stability programme). This is comforting for occupants. Kia Motors is expecting a 5 star rating when the new Soul is crash tested by EuroNCAP soon. The base model won't qualify for 5 stars without ESP being fitted, so it (the base model) will probably come in with 4 stars (if it is tested).

Pricing for the new Kia Soul begins at $20,990 (RRP) for the petrol engined, manual transmission version. The value of the pricing structure is obvious. The pricing for the higher specification Soul 3 (which is only available with automatic transmission) begins at $27,390. The diesel engine adds $3,500 to the price. Hence, our drive car, the Kia Soul 3 diesel automatic, has a starting price of $30,890 (RRP) plus the optional premium paint ($400), making a total RRP of $31,290. At this price, the Soul 3 is priced way above the starting price for the base model. And that will always be the case, as we must expect to pay more for more.

About the only thing missing on the Kia Soul 3 is cruise control. Of course, if city driving is the normal routine for the owner, then cruise control won't necessarily be missed. But on a long country drive, cruise control is always a treat.

Although not fitted to the test car, Soul 3 offers the option of a fancier interior trim. Two different coloured trims in fact. One is known as "Retro Chic", whilst the other is "Street Demon". Each looks quite attractive and are, apparently, aimed at those who just cannot get enough of the trendiness which is part of the Soul 'deal'. And there's more. Kia has a wide range of other features that are available to personalise the Soul. A wide selection of nice colour schemes are available.

It's the trendiness of the Soul that sets this new Kia apart from every other car on the Australian new car market. The Kia Soul has a very unique approach to styling. And that styling does draw attention to the car. Yet, as we have determined, the Soul is much more than just a styling exercise.

Kia Motors is certainly a go ahead type of commercial/industial operation. The 'platform' for the new Kia Soul is likely to be used for additional models. Just quietly, I can't wait.

Adding strength to the value equation is the extraordinary warranty, provided by Kia Motors, to each car they sell to a private buyer in Australia. The warranty period is 5 years, unlimited kilometres.

Weighing up factors such as (but not limited to) initial purchase price, interior comfort (despite the quite compact exterior dimensions), the fuel economy and the driveability of the Kia Soul we must conclude by indicating that Kia has really done it this time! The Korean company has come up with an automotive concept that will 'fire-up' the imagination of many a new car buyer.

Let us dare you ..... don't tell your family members that you have acquired a new Kia Soul, just arrive and park on their driveway ..... then check their reaction!


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