Kia Soluto: Power to surpriseFriday, July 02, 2021
BY RORY DALEY
ON the surface, the 2021 Kia Soluto has a tough job ahead of it. The new vehicle has to replace two cars in the family, the smaller Picanto and the slightly larger Rio, both hatchbacks. Yet it does this surprisingly easily, offering a price point lower than the outgoing Picanto while delivering the expectations of the Rio. In fact, for just over $1,000 a day, one can put the Soluto in their garage via the current Mobility Initiative programme from ATL Tiger Motors, the division of the ATL Automotive Group responsible for the Kia brand of vehicles, and National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCB).
Visually, the Soluto is an inoffensive sedan. It bears the familiar Kia design cues, like the tiger-nose grille. Fourteen-inch alloys bless the wheel arches instead of easily lost or stolen plastic hubcaps. What is obvious is its size. It's a lot of car for the money. This is felt on the inside, where the space means there's room for occupants, front and rear, and all their accompanying cargo. The interior is just as cleanly designed as the exterior. However, some extra creativity was used as seen on the unusual air vent design. Further livening things up is the use of piano-gloss black trim in key areas, again for some material variety in the cabin.
The Picanto, best described as optimised for urban life, was able for the occasional out of town jaunt. As the Soluto is larger sedan more towards the Rio spectrum, passenger comfort is not an issue for long journeys. The cloth seats are soft and most drivers will like the higher driving position that mimics the current sporty utility vehicle trend. Long or short trips, the infotainment is excellent in this segment, offering both Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The audio quality is par for the course, but the ability to plug in one's smartphone and use all their modern conveniences is something rarely found even in vehicles above the Soluto. The bright seven-inch touchscreen becomes the hub for all the connectivity via Bluetooth and USB port. Don't have a smartphone, there's USB for a flash drive or even an old-fashioned AUX in plug for an analogue device.
On the road, the Soluto is typical Kia, comfortable but slightly sporty. The driving dynamics are firm allowing it to be pushed at speed with little worry. The 1.4-litre engine is punchy to match, but that's not how this car will be driven. Buyers here are looking for fuel economy and the Soluto delivers on that front. There are no drive modes, the throttle and transmission are tuned to maximise mileage. For speed one needs to push deep into the throttle at which point the car wakes up to take advantage of the abilities of its chassis.
There's no doubt the Soluto is a lot of car for the money and can deliver on the key factors buyers are looking for at this end of the market. Taking charge of one's transportation is no longer a luxury, but that of personal safety and health under the current climate. If one should analyse their own monthly financial outlay then, if the numbers add up, the 2021 Kia Soluto might surprise indeed.
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