Kia Soul Inferno 1.6 CRDi

 

By Tim Saunders

What kind of vehicle does an ardent clubber or festival-goer drive?

Forget the stereotypical VW campers of old that have all since broken down and rusted away. The new generation drive the super-cool and ultra-trendy Kia Soul, a far funkier proposition.

This is one of the few cars fitted with groovy mood lighting. When listening to your favourite tunes with the bass speakers thumping, green, yellow, purple and blue lighting surrounds the large door speakers in the front. This true club feel is best experienced when bopping to your best beats in the dead of night.

As its name suggests it is certainly distinctive and appealing.

“Isn’t that a bit of a funky car for a dad of one with another on the way?” questions a young work colleague. She might perhaps be right as the grey hairs start to take hold. But the Soul certainly gets its driver down with the kids, even if the stereo is turned down a bit these days for fear of going deaf.

Its Inferno 1.6 CRDi five-door model urban cruiser tested is finished in eye-catching red with a black grille not that far removed from the Skoda Fabia vRS. That’s where the similarity ends though. The emphasis on the Soul is more street cool than speed demon. It craves attention and the red dragon emblazoned across its doors and bonnet like graffiti certainly makes heads turn. Driving a vehicle with such striking graphics is a first for me. And its boxy styling is surprisingly attractive and different from anything else on the road. It takes over from Chrysler’s retro PT Cruiser, which reigned supreme until it was withdrawn from production in 2010.

During the test the digital reading claims that the 1.6-litre diesel has returned just over 50mpg but it feels much less than this as the fuel gauge seems to permanently drop. It doesn’t seem to be as efficient as other similar sized units on the market. But its six-speed gearbox is smooth providing an enjoyable drive while its high driving position gives a more commanding view of the road than a standard car. A centre armrest in the front would be useful for long journeys. While its interior is practical and robust, there is plenty of black and so the mood lighting is a welcome addition, take a look at the video at testdrives.biz to see it in action. For me the seats are quite hard and not as comfortable and supportive for my temperamental back as I would hope.

I am a fan of the electronically folding wing mirrors, too which help prevent parking or vandalism damage. There’s rear privacy glass.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “It’s not much longer or wider than a Vauxhall Corsa, but it’s usefully spacious and stands out for people who’d rather choose something more distinctive than a run-of-the-mill small hatchback. Plenty of rear passenger space, a decent boot plus a well put together interior make the Soul a great small family car, while a smooth ride and light steering make it ideal for town and city driving.”

The Kia Soul is more about looking the part and standing out from the crowd than performance and efficiency but it’s a welcome alternative for the cool dad who likes to blast Boney M’s Daddy Cool from the speakers.

New price range: £12,795 - £18,695

Economy: 50mpg

0-60mph: 10.3secs

Top speed: 112 mph

Power: 126bhp

Fuel tank: 48 litres

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