COOL TO BE SQUARE (some text hidden)
By Andy Enright
Introductionword count: 110
If you thought that all small cars looked the same and a modest vehicle budget precluded any semblance of style, I think you're going to like the Kia Soul. It's a car that's bursting with neat design touches and looks a long way removed from the standard supermini template. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you'll know that Kia is going places, with some of the most progressive designs of any car manufacturer. Of course, there are a number of people who have missed out on exactly this message, which means that if you're quick, you might be able to nab a used bargain.
Modelsword count: 14
5dr hatchback (1.6 diesel, 1.6 petrol [1, 2, Tempest, Burner, Samba, Shaker, Echo, Searcher])
Historyword count: 182
The Kia Soul remained surprisingly faithful to the Soulster concept car revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit at the start of 2006. That concept was the inspiration of Kia's North American design studios in California. Eight months later, when Peter Schreyer - the man behind cars like the Audi TT and the Volkswagen New Beetle - became Chief Design Officer at Kia, he oversaw the project through to the final production stage. Launched in the UK in March 2009, the Soul was an immediate hit with buyers looking for something inexpensive but imbued with a little personality. Practical and rugged, it offered a simple trim line up and a straightforward choice between a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 1.6-litre diesel engine. Since launch, we've seen a number of special edition trim levels appear which have done a reasonably good job of keeping the Soul fresh. A facelifted 2012 model year car was shown at the 2011 New York Show. Retaining the same basic proportions, this Soul featured neater detailing and a more powerful 138bhp direct injection petrol engine.
What You Getword count: 274
The Soul might be front wheel-drive but you could certainly be forgiven for thinking otherwise on first catching site of one. The classic 4x4 styling cues can all be ticked off, from the chunky bumpers and flared wheel arches to the roof bars and the setsquare rear end. There's even a plastic vent behind the front wheel that houses the side repeater and could have been lifted direct from a Land Rover. The Soul is only a fraction longer than a Ford Fiesta supermini but its boxy dimensions help it trump any supermini you'd care to mention for interior space. The boot has a huge opening, a usefully high loading lip and compartments beneath the floor, while space in the back seats is also plentiful. Kia's quest to give this model some soul doesn't end with the exterior styling. The interior too shows a level of imagination not normally associated with Korean cars. The plastics quality is open to question in places but the space is light and bright thanks to some extrovert colour schemes. Kia is even venturing down the personalisation route for the first time. Traditional Kia buyers aren't usually of the sort who will dip into the options list for a sports body kit or a Union Jack roof graphic and Kia products tend not to lend themselves to that kind of thing anyway but the Soul dares to be different. Kia has shed its usual reserve in offering a collection of bodywork graphics, interior styling features and even 'eyelashes' that can be stuck on the headlamps to add some personality. Good idea or not, it's not Kia's usual modus operandi.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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