MOTORS REVIEW: Kia SOUL Burner

By Tom Sharpe | 03/10/2017

MOTORS REVIEW: Kia SOUL Burner
Kia SOUL Burner

Engine: 1.6-litre, turbo-charged diesel
Power: 126bhp and 391lb.ft.
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.3 seconds and 113mph
Fuel economy: 54.3mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 137g/km
Price: £14,995
Rating: ***

BLING IT ON!

WHAT exactly do you expect from a car called the Soul Burner?

It sounds like Kia's new SUV took its name from Satan's favourite henchman in Hell.

I half expected heated seats with the ability to blister flesh through the seat of my pants, a heater lifted straight from the Apollo space missions and room in the boot for a two-headed dog going by the name of Cerberus.

Only one of these things materialised...though I couldn't find said two-headed dog to take advantage of the fact.

No, the darkest thing about the Soul Burner is its rather gothic paint job.

Kia's marketing gurus have designed the Soul to take on SUVs like Nissan's Qashqai while offering the charm and desirability of a MINI or Fiat 500.

Frugal, spacious and boasting the rugged off-road looks, the front-wheel-drive crossover vehicle aims to deliver the best of all worlds.

Kia's 124bhp 1.6-litre petrol and 126bhp 1.6-litre CRDi engines ensure the Soul range offers 43.5mpg and 54.3mpg, respectively.

And in £14,995 Burner form the Soul seeks to add yet another dimension with the kind of bling paint job offered by a back street tattooist and Westwood-spec alloy wheels.

In standard form the Soul is bold enough to have a hint of concept car appeal about it.

A clamshell roof echoes MINI and even Range Rover, appearing to float on a wrap around windscreen thanks to gloss black A and B pillars, while the high, bulbous bonnet and flared wheel arches give a sense of four-square stability despite the Soul's relative height.

With roof rails, gloss black alloys, red-on-black detailing and huge lizard graphics down the side the Soul is somewhat different in Burner form—like a special edition Hot Wheels toy.

There is hidden depth to the brash SUV, however.

Inside the Soul is bright, fresh, practical and fun in its design.

Rear leg and head room is impressive and there's a 340-litre boot.

Though a world away from MINI standards of build quality there are adventurous touches including neon mood lighting within the speakers which I suspect would be de-activated after an initial "ahhh."

Air conditioning, electric windows, USB compatible stereo, central locking and six airbags come as standard in every Soul but the range-topping Burner adds a 315-watt sound system which delivers pretty impressive depth of sound.

Kia fine-tuned the Soul's handling for the UK in conjunction with Lotus but, with its big wheels and low-profile rubber, the result is a little harsh in the Burner.

Though it's fairly sharp on turn in and corners flat, the suspension jars over severe bumps, the damping momentarily flustered.

For family use, at least, a bit more cushioning between rim and road might be preferred.

The turbo-diesel engine accelerates to 62mph three tenths slower than the petrol alternative at 11.3 seconds but is probably the quicker of the two in general day-to-day driving. By no means does it give the Soul what it needs to boast any sporting pretence, however.

What may matter more, though, is a combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg.

The Soul Burner is somewhat schizophrenic. A brash soft-roader for the family market. A sedate, frugal car with Pimp My Ride appeal.

It's bound to split opinion.

Personally, I'd opt out of the stickers and alloys. For a cheaper £12,495, and with Kia's seven year warranty, this looks like one SUV that has broken the mould to great effect.

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