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Friday 15 December 2017

Soul searching

Quirky look of the Kia has Marmite effect - you'll either love it or hate it, writes Ian Mallon

The new Passat
The new Passat

If you think that reading this article will help form an opinion on whether you should buy the Kia Soul, then I'm afraid you're badly mistaken.

I still have no idea what the Soul actually is … cartoon, concept or car.

First, it's not often that I find myself sitting in an odd-shaped car where people are pointing and laughing at me.

A small child even pointed at me, dragged his dad to a standstill to make him look, and the two of them are now guffawing in my direction.

Yes, I've arrived in Toytown and I am Noddy in my 'cartoonmobile'.

When you've had the temerity to drive anything that others judge as odd-looking, you become the unwarranted focus of every rubber-necker in town.

COMEDIC

But what could possibly be so fascinating about this particular machine? After all, the Kia Soul has been out before, only this newest version seems to grab everyone's attention.

Surely any car that looks completely different to everything else on the road must be welcomed in a warm embrace of auto affection?

And aren't we all sick of freak-show family saloons or moronic MPVs? Indeed our thirst for a different look is undeniable.

But the Soul may be pushing the boundaries a little, given the complete comedic edge from front to back and side to side which Kia says is down to a smooth, new look and stiffer bodyshell which is inspired by the Kia Track'ster concept.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I suspect the Soul itself is merely a concept that was so zany some guy in Korea said: "Sure, let it out there lads, we won't sell many but we'll increase our brand awareness."

Yes, the Soul is different, it looks like no other car on the road, it certainly turns heads, and as I found out makes small children very happy.

Part of the oddity that is the Soul is the amazing front grille which is like something off of a Lego truck: it is big and aggressive and very loud, which I loved.

I also liked that there is quite a bit of space on-board - the munchkins didn't complain - and goodness knows they're well able to do that - and it was quite a comfortable ride.

Two models are available in Ireland - the EX (€24,495) and the Platinum ( €28,495) - both powered by a 1.6 diesel engine.

The EX is equipped with comfort, technology and safety features including 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, climate control,digital radio and rear view camera.

The Platinum adds 18-inch rims, sat nav, leather upholstery with heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver's seat, panoramic sunroof and an Infinity sound system.

A little pleasing was the discovery that both models chuck out a perfectly adequate 128bhp, which offered plenty by way of take-off and acceleration.

The biggest technical change for the new 2014 Soul is the adoption of an all-new platform, based on that of the latest Kia cee'd.

The re-engineered bodyshell is now 66pc ultra-high-strength steel with stronger connections along the cowl, upper and lower B and C-pillars.

Perhaps keeping with the humour of the Soul, Kia declares that this results in a 29pc increase in torsional rigidity - yes, can you believe it?

So, there you have it … I still have no idea if I love or hate the Kia Soul.

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