2017 Kia Soul 1.6 DSL EX: Soulful delight

In Photo: The Kia Soul with predominant curvy and rounded delineations all over

ARE you wondering where Kia derived the name Soul, or if it represents a deeper meaning? Well, it happened to be the most straightforward among the brand’s name derivations. But one thing certain is that the second-generation Soul subcompact crossover we tested for this month was based on the Track’ster concept introduced back in 2012.

The exterior design was greatly inherited that only the number of doors, expanded wheel arches and the signature front grille were not adapted. Kia’s selling point for the inimitable figure is to promote individuality while keeping the very essence of driving experience, particularly in the urban setup.

Pay more attention to the prominent curvy and rounded body delineations, and you’ll begin to understand why it has less-sharp lines—expressing a more flowing effect with classic-looking profile. Of course, there’s the front-grille moniker present to all modern Kia vehicles. The bonnet-type hood sits perfectly on the rounded yet keen-looking headlamps fitted with multifocus reflector type. Denoting sportiness is the pronounced trapezoidal bottom grille. While there are more rounded profiles all over, the wheel arches convey robustness. Further, its lower ground clearance complemented the 18-inch multispoke alloy rims wrapped in low-profile rubbers. The rear end, particularly the tailgate and bumper, is nothing less of being stylish and equally striking as well. Overall, the two-tone effect from the white-shade flat roof panel provided that European-inspired character.

Equally striking rear end with stylish tailgate

When it comes to the interior, this is where you’ll draw the line between form and function. Because, if what you’re seeking is more of the plush element, then this crossover is not for you. The Soul’s cabin, just like any other Korean-made crossovers, focuses more on ergonomics with utilitarian touch—except for the high-end ones. This explains why there are more plastics than leather and that the dark color motif is very much monochromatic. The layout is also straightforward and will definitely not confuse you on what buttons or switches to operate. Nevertheless, one of the upsides is that it’s easy to clean and to maintain. As for the sporty seats, it not only offers a snug, fit feel it’s also broad enough to have side bolsters. What’s more, those 60:40 rear benches can be folded to create more room for cargo. Another plus factor is the high headroom, which was quite a surprise considering the flanks higher beltline created an illusion otherwise.

The cabin’s ergonomic monochromatic motif conveys that utilitarian ambience.

One of the surprises this crossover revealed was its powertrain delivery. Sure, the exterior guise may look tamed and less imposing, but underneath that hood is a turbodiesel motor capable of generating brute force. Impressively, its smaller, 1.6-liter motor can dish out a massive 300 N-m of maximum torque at low rpm range thanks to the electronic variable geometry turbo (e-VGT). So, every time you summon the engine, you’ll be surprise how quick the vehicle can reach cruising speeds. Likewise, overtaking is a walk in a park for this crossover. On the other hand, that early surge of torque enables the coupled seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission to upshift constantly and seamlessly. As a result, the fuel consumption was remarkably efficient at about 10 to 11 kilometers per liter, even while traversing mostly on gridlock-plagued routes. Another contributing factor to the Soul’s notable fuel efficiency was the active eco function, which enables the throttle to be less sensitive.

Small in displacement but huge in delivery

Handling is also one of the Soul’s strong points. Its combined lower ground clearance and wider axle tracks proved to be stable on entering curves and tight turns. You can even adjust the helm’s level of response through the FLEX steer function switch on the helm, which enables drivers to choose between three preset configurations. At Comfort mode, you’ll get that light feel ideal when parking and driving in urban settings. But on Sport mode, the steering becomes stiffer to ensure stability on freeway dwellings and more responsive on zigzags. Normal mode, meanwhile, gets you somewhere in between. On the road, the ride leans toward the comfort side with minimal tire rebounds coming from the low-profile tires. But highway runs are definitely smooth and comfy.

When it comes to safety, the Soul EX variant’s features are definitely not shortchanged. For one, the electronic stability control came in standard with the vehicle-stability management and hill-start assist-control functions. Even the antilock brake system comes with a brake-assist system. Of the four brake rotors, the ones in front are ventilated to provide enough stopping power. Of course, there’s airbags, rear parking assist and child anchor ISOFIX, among others.

The Kia Soul may not be for everyone to appreciate. But only those who are willing to be different, at the same time inclined to the reliable factors that affect one’s driving sensation, would embrace this subcompact crossover. Also, it’s one of the subcompact crossovers out there that is fun to drive and will give you a grin every time you step on it. After all, it wouldn’t be the recipient of several international awards for design category for nothing.

Thumbs Up

  • Impressive torque output at low rpm
  • Exterior enhancements
  • Two-tone color motif
  • FLEX Steer function

Thumbs Down

  • No sunroof (something you can live without)
  • Lacks cruise control function

Specifications

  • Vehicle: Kia Soul 1.6 DSL EX (Two-tone Newport Blue)
  • Type: Subcompact crossover
  • Engine: U2 1.6 liter, inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC, CRDi, Electronic-Variable Geometry Turbo (E-VGT), turbodiesel
  • Maximum power: 134hp at 4,000rpm
  • Maximum torque: 300N-m at 1,750rpm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed Dual Clutch Automatic

Dimensions

  • Overall length: 4,140 mm
  • Overall widt: 1,800 mm
  • Overall height: 1,613 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,570 mm
  • Ground Clearance: 150 mm
  • Curb Weight: 1,335 kg
  • Tire size: 235/45 R18

Price as tested

  • P1.140 million

Image Credits: Randy S. Peregrino

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Randy is our contributing writer for motoring and journey sections. If he is not doing test drives for monthly feature stories, he finds delight in covering travel events once in a while. His passion for cars goes beyond appreciation and knowledge as he takes pleasure in fixing stuff all by himself - as long as he have the right tools. Previously, he led teams of associates in the BPO industry from several offshore companies for almost a decade. He is a proud Thomasian.