The Kia Soul urban crossover has been revised for the 2012 model year, with fuel economy improved up to 57.6 mpg in the case of the 1.6 CRDi model.
New or revised 1.6-litre engines and the introduction of a six-speed gearbox on all models improve performance while lowering fuel consumption, emissions and running costs.
The Soul is a five-door, five-seat, front-wheel-drive hatchback with a seating arrangement which offers the flexibility of a medium-sized MPV within the footprint of a supermini.
The Soul was the first Kia to use an all-new platform that has since been adopted in modified form for Kia’s other B-segment models, the Venga and new Rio. It’s powered by two 1.6-litre engines – a new direct-injection (GDi) petrol unit developing 138 bhp – up 14 bhp on the previous 1.6-litre – and a modified 126 bhp turbodiesel (CRDi).
A six-speed manual gearbox replaces the five-speed unit previously used, while the CRDi engine is optionally available with a six-speed automatic in place of the former four-speed transmission.
The diesel manual is 0.6 seconds quicker from rest to 60 mph (now 10.3 seconds), while more than 3 mpg more fuel-efficient (57.6 mpg). This is sufficient to bring its CO 2 emissions down by 8 g/km to 129 g/km, which means owners are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) in the car’s first year.
The new petrol engine and six-speed gearbox combination can accelerate from standstill to 62 mph in 10 seconds, while its official combined-cycle economy is 44.1 mpg. With CO 2 emissions of 149 g/km, it sits in band F for VED, which saves owners £35 a year compared with the previous model.
The Soul has Kia’s motor-driven electronic power-assisted steering, which contributes three per cent to fuel savings compared with a conventional engine-driven hydraulic rack-and-pinion system. Power assistance is provided only when needed, reducing power draw on the engine.
The Soul comes as standard with electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD). ESC intervenes to prevent skids by braking one or more wheels, reducing engine power or both if sensors detect the car may be in danger of going out of control. EBD, meanwhile, automatically ensures that stopping power is directed to the four wheels in such a way as to ensure the car is brought to a halt in the shortest possible distance.
For 2012 these safety measures have been supplemented by Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). VSM uses the ESC sensors to detect when one side of the car is traversing a more slippery surface than the other, such as when there is ice, standing water or wet leaves at the edge of the road. It then intervenes to stabilise the car. HAC holds the car on its brakes when setting off on inclines until the driver touches the accelerator pedal. In this way it is impossible for the car to roll backwards.
The revised model is now on sale offering a choice of two regular trim grades, badged Soul 1 and Soul 2, and two ‘Soul Originals’, the Hunter and Quantum. ‘Soul Originals’ is a rolling programme of special versions with unique styling and trim, changed at regular intervals.
Standard specification includes air conditioning, all-round electric windows, remote central locking and six airbags fitted to every model. The 2012 Soul 1 gains Bluetooth with voice control, remote audio controls and electric mirrors. The Soul 2 has new 16-inch alloys, unique upholstery and folding mirrors.
All versions have Kia’s seven-year, 100,000 miles warranty.
Prices start at £12,495 for the 1.6 GDi 1. The Soul 1.6 CRDi 2 costs £14,695.