The Kia Soul: A Soul Ful Display}

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Submitted by: Pete J Ridgard

On first inspection, The Kia Soul is like no other car I have ever witnessed. Essentially the Soul is your common or garden 5-door hatchback, but following the personality route favoured by the Mini and the Fiat 500. Theres something rather striking about the Kias looks; it is part supermini, part chunky SUV and part practical MPV. So why have Kia manufactured a car with chameleonic personality disorder when trying to please everyone very rarely works? Let me put this conundrum into a comestible based idiom. If you were baking 1 pie for 4 people, but every one of those 4 wanted a different filling in the pie, you are likely to end up with a minced-beef, rhubarb, chicken and asparagus mess with a pastry hat on…and nobody wants to eat that. So will anybody want to drive the Kia Soul?

The tall roofline and high ground clearance give the Kia Soul the visual aesthetic of a 4X4, yet Kia are adamantly stating it is a 5 door hatchback (the front wheel-drive only option confirms this). Kia are looking to ape the Mini in terms of handling and performance, by including very punchy and responsive 1.4 and 1.6 Litre Petrol engines and a 1.6 Diesel engine. The Chief Designer of Kias European division has even said on record that the design team spent a lot of time looking at the Mini during the Souls gestation period.

He also stated that the Soul was going to be an economically and ecologically sound motor, which helps unravel the conundrum of this cars existence. Those clever clogs at Kia have deduced that economic constraints suggest that future car buyers are going to be looking at the cheaper end of the market, so why not take advantage of this and try and build a car for the everyman? For the school run there is enough room to house four kid, for the tree-huggers and long commuters the Kia Soul produces low Co2 emissions, for the youngster of the house the Soul has enough style and individuality to gain nods of approval and for the car enthusiast there is a choice of well-performing engines. A car for all seasons then, surely?

The interiors are in keeping with the showy nature of the Souls body. In fact the Diva model looks exactly how I imagine the inside of Paris Hiltons hand bag to look; its a rather garish mixture of black and white plastics all adorned with tacky golden trim. But this is the crux of the argument in favour of the Kia Soul.

The whole point of this car is to inject some much needed character and life into the supermini market, which (bar a few select brands) is in danger of turning so po-faced it will disappear irretrievably into a whirlwind of depression. The customisation options available with the Kia Soul exist primarily so the owner can put his/her individual stamp on their vehicle…regardless of how classless and tacky it may be. As an initiative, Kia should be saluted for this.

In summary, underneath the bonnet the Kia Soul is very ordinary. What it is attempting to do is to force some charisma into ecologically and economically concerned drivers. Just because you love the O-zone layer and dont have a lot of cash floating about, doesnt mean that you should drive a boring car…and I agree wholeheartedly.

About the Author: Pete J Ridgard is a writer and a car enthusiast. He currently writes for the automotive industry. Here he discusses the new Kia Soul.

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