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Kia's Soul mini-MPV has smartened up for its second coming.
The exterior maintains the off-the-wall looks of the outgoing model but adds more rounded, upright features. The wheelbase is 20mm longer and the car is 15mm wider and 10mm lower. All those changes, among others, mean there's more room inside than before. Rear passengers have it particularly good in terms of head and legroom, and the lower ride height and position of the seats makes it easier to get in and out of - something that will go down well with the Motability customers the Soul is likely to pick up.
In keeping with Kia's quest to move its cars upmarket, the interior is a lot classier. It's decked out with plush materials and genuinely is a pleasant place to sit, helping to shed the firm's budget image.
While it isn't a thrilling drive, developments to the suspension (the car now runs on the lower medium Ceed's platform) and steering have sharpened the Soul up. It does a good job of keeping out the racket from the engine and the road, but a little wind noise still creeps through, and the ride, though improved, is slightly on the bumpy side.
Engines are limited to a pair of 1.6-litre units - one petrol and one diesel - and there's an electric version on the way towards the end of the year, which is a first for the company.
It's a good job too, because emissions and economy from the petrol and diesel engines are not class-leading. You're looking at 132g/km and 56.5mpg from the most efficient diesel manual variant, which is off the pace next to Vauxhall's recently revised Meriva 1.6 CDTi at 116g/km and 64.2mpg.
granitekitchen tested the mid-spec Connect Plus model, which is tipped to be the most popular trim with around 40% of sales. Surprisingly, given the emissions and the Soul's status as more of a retail proposition, Kia claims that 55% of the first generation went to business users, although Motability accounted for a chunk of that. Those volumes (both fleet and Motability) are predicted to drop with the new model as retail takes a bigger bite.
At 45.1pence per mile, the Soul falls short of the Vauxhall Meriva's 40.4ppm (see rivals panel below), but it undercuts competitors from Fiat and Citroen courtesy of a low P11D, generous levels of equipment and a decent but not sparkling RV figure.
Model price range
Service, maintenance and repair
Vehicle Excise Duty
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space (min/max)
Smarter and much more upmarket than its predecessor