Kia's got Soul

Observer writer

Friday, June 15, 2018

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For those not looking for the traditional sedan, sports car, or sports utility vehicle, there is the 2018 Kia Soul.

The Soul doesn't follow any significant design trend besides its own. From afar, its boxy upright shape makes it a standout. Get closer and it's about the details as there are no harsh edges; just a blend of soft curves and muscular flaring to the wheel arches that amplify the 18-inch wheel package. This is not a vehicle you want to get in regular colours as the body styling is suited to the more adventurous customer. A search through the exterior colour options indicates that Kia thinks so as well, with tones including Wild Orange, as with test model. Buyers can mix things up with Inferno Red, which comes with a black roof, or go for the blue-and-white, two-tone look.

Inside, the boxy shape is function following form. It's just as daring as the outside. Material quality is expected in Kia, meaning very European. The cloth seats are comfortable. Soft-touch materials are at key touchpoints. Gloss black trim fills out the rest of the cabin. Small touches like the way the steering control stalks click to the fine jewelled ring around the centre console dials add up to a very upscale feel to the interior. Cup holders and charging ports are available for front and rear passengers. The infotainment is standard Kia: responsive providing error-free operation and connectivity. Major functions are mirrored inside the instrument binnacle and can be controlled from the steering wheel.

The cabin then takes a turn for the brave, much like the exterior, with its speaker design. The stereo system takes centre stage with a pair of speakers mounted upright, on the top of the dashboard, above the air vents. To the right of the driver is a control for the mood lighting. It can be set to the music being played in the vehicle or to cycle with one's mood. This one control defines the nature of the Soul. While it is practical, it's set up as a fun, comfortable cruiser.

It does have two modes, ECO and SPORT, but they will be hardly used as the Soul is just perfect in normal mode. SPORT adds aggression when one is tired of calm driving, while ECO reduces throttle response to save fuel. On the road the refinement is excellent, insulating passengers from the external hustle and bustle of urban traffic. However, it's not soft enough to trip itself up in corners as it lacks body roll. The engine delivers power in a similar smooth fashion as not to disrupt passengers. In all its effortless motoring, the goal is to allow the occupants to enjoy whatever they may be doing, like having a night out on the town or just cruising to the beach.

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