The 2015 KIA Soul

Drives like a real car and not a toy

The 2015 Kia Soul retains much  of the styling philosophy of the previous generation.

The 2015 Kia Soul retains much
of the styling philosophy of the previous generation.

Since 2005, Kia has focused on the European market and identified their direction for a new design, leading to a new creed called “future growth engines.”

The best person they took to lead the company toward the new mission was Peter Schreyer, former chief designer of Audi and Volkswagen. In 2006, he became chief design officer of Kia and subsequently created Kia’s new corporate grille known as the Tiger Nose.

The Tiger Nose signifies Kia’s new brand signature, comparable to BMW’s kidney grill, Audi’s four-ring grill and Mercedes’ slotted grill and Silver Star on the bonnet.

The 2015 Kia Soul LX is one of the first Kia models to sport the new Tiger Nose.  So will the Kia Soul LX be embraced by car enthusiasts? Kia believes so.

Kia has moved the game further with by using a new platform on the 2015 Soul. It was launched last year, only four years off from the outgoing model.

The Soul retains its iconic square shape with angular side rear windows and sharp corners that have been smoothed out just a bit. At first glance, its styling looks the same, but it is wider and just a tad shorter than the previous model.

Up front, the lower portion of the front bumper is now more aggressively sculpted (almost looking like the Mini Clubman) and the fenders have more shoulder for that muscular look.

The wheels seem to have been pushed out toward the four corners while the tall taillights are well integrated at the curved tail and shine with LED incandescence.

Recently, we were privileged to visit South Korea to see the all-new Kia Soul first hand.

From the airport, I, together with Kia Marketing Manager Nenuka Guba, were picked up in a Soul EX and brought to one of Kia’s manufacturing plants in South Korea, the Hwasung Plant, for a personalized tour.

Once we got to the plant, I got to test drive the Soul around the perimeter of the factory. As I sat in the Soul’s driver’s seat, I immediately noticed how roomy the Soul felt despite its exterior appearance. However, I couldn’t really get up to speed because of the tight roads and car carriers coming in and out of the factory. I got to drive the Soul a bit, but it still was not enough to get acquainted with its handling and power.

Drive to Baguio City
A few months later, I finally got the chance to test drive the all-new base LX Soul here in the Philippines. I took it to the mountains of Baguio over a long weekend for a decent assessment. The ride, surprisingly, is vastly improved because of a revised front and rear suspension design that took the edge off of a previously harsh ride. The new Soul feels more like a real car rather than a toy. While it’s nowhere near soft and floaty, rough pavement is not jarring and larger bumps on the road are absorbed better. The three-setting electric power steering reacts with some immediacy together with the 205/60/16 tires, making them a good union to take the twisties of Kennon road.

Also, slight improvements to the car’s aerodynamics as well as baked-expansion foam sealing and a reinforced isolation pad on the floor aided damping inside. These measures worked in helping create a pleasant atmosphere for conversation during the entirety of the test drive as both driver and passenger.

The 1.6-liter DOHC common-rail turbo diesel engine that puts out 128 PS and 192 pound-feet of torque is mated either to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The quoted zero to 100 kilometers per hour time of 10.8 seconds and top speed of 180 kph is competitive for the class.

Kia has focused on ease of use and fuel efficiency with the Soul. It has an “Eco” button for greater fuel economy.

The Soul is a car for style-conscious drivers, and on that front it appears to gain a leading edge over many rivals in the compact crossover category.

However, there are still some points where the Soul can be improved. Smaller drivers will have a hard time getting a good view of the road ahead as the driver’s seat lacks adjustment for seat height. Parts of the interior could do with better quality furnishings.  The Soul’s chunky shape and huge wing mirrors create a fair amount of wind noise at speed. But if you’re after a stylish and practical compact crossover that stands out from the crowd, the Kia Soul should certainly be considered.


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