Review: Kia Soul (2008 – 2014)

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Oddball looks mean it stands out. Plenty of room especially in the back. Very comfortable seats. Excellent chain cam 1.6 diesel and petrol engines. Option of diesel automatic.

No sportscar to drive. CO2 emissions could be lower. Baffling array of different versions and special editions.

Kia Soul (2008 – 2014): At A Glance

My fault, I know. I video tested the Kia Soul without knowing exactly which model it was. So, though a phone call to Kia elicited the information it was a Soul 2 diesel at £12,495, in fact it turned out to be a Soul Shaker diesel at a slightly stiffer £13,495.

Still good value for money though. Especially compared with what that will buy from Ford or Honda, assuming no discounts.

You might regard the Soul as being perversely styled. It's as if it's different for the sake of being different. A bit like the peculiar box-like Far East Market Hondas, the Nissan Cube and the Daihatsu Materia. There's no logical justification for the way it looks or why you should buy it. Yet that's in its favour. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised. I was.

KIA Soul 2009 Road Test and Video

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What does a Kia Soul (2008 – 2014) cost?

Contract hire from £141.58 per month

Kia Soul (2008 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4105–4120 mm
Width 1785 mm
Height 1610 mm
Wheelbase 2550 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the seats and the dash complement it perfectly by mixing a chocolately brown into the décor, like in inverted choc-ice.

The luggage area looks a bit stingy, until you lift the floor and find what amounts to a basement underneath, and a space saver spare under that, so no forlorn inflation kits with as much chance of repairing a shredded tyre as a tube of Evo-Stick.

Child seats that fit a Kia Soul (2008 – 2014)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Kia Soul (2008 – 2014) like to drive?

The Soul Shaker comes on monstrously blingy 18" wheels with thinly spread 45 section rubber round the rims. So it should ride like a cart.

But it doesn't. It's quite softly sprung and the seats are very comfortable so you are only ware of the lack of tyre when riding ridges or potholes. (You still have to watch out for potholes.) Though, of course, that deficiency can be corrected by ordering a Soul 2 on 205/55 R16s. Or, if you really want shock-proof, a Soul 1 on 195/65 R15s (my favourite size tyres).

This is not a car for weekend track-day fun. You sit high so it has a high centre of gravity and does roll understeer. Not as badly as some MPVs and, with the excellent 126PS 1.6 diesel engine it can be hustled along quite briskly. Just don't try racing an Abarth 500, a MINI Cooper S or an MX5.

The only engines are a smooth, chain-cam 1.6 petrol or the quite punchy chain cam 1.6 diesel. A 4-speed autobox is an option with the diesel, keeping CO2 down to the same Band as the petrol manual.

Check the specs below for more details. As well as the KIA Soul 1 and Soul 2 and Soul Samba and Shaker versions, there's a mad ‘Burner' with 315-watt stereo power amplifier and powerbass sub-woofer to really annoy elderly pedestrians as you cruise down the local high street.

And there are all kinds of bits and pieces to add to personalise your KIA Soul.

So though it starts at an extremely reasonable £10,500, about the same as a Honda Jazz 1.2 or a Mazda 2 1.3TS2, you can spend way over £15,000 if you want to. And Kia will be constantly introducing new special editions, so might turn the Soul into a bit of a cult. It's certainly trying, with a graffiti style advertising campaign.

But you don't have to go all the way. And for reasonable money you can have an interesting looking car that's not only an alternative to a Jazz or a Fiesta, but also an alternative to the alternatives, like a Skoda Roomster, a Suzuki SX4 or FIAT Sedici, a Daihatsu Materia, a FIAT 500, a MINI, and the forthcoming Toyota Urban Cruiser. No reason not to check one out.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 44 mpg 11.0 s 153 g/km
1.6 Automatic 39 mpg 11.9 s 167 g/km
1.6 CRDi 54–58 mpg 11.3 s 129–137 g/km
1.6 CRDi Automatic 48 mpg 11.9 s 155 g/km
1.6 GDi 44 mpg - 149 g/km

Real MPG average for a Kia Soul (2008 – 2014)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

30–54 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Kia Soul (2008 – 2014)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Does my car have a DPF?

My friend has ownes a 10-plate Kia Soul diesel automatic for years, he drives around town all the time and never has any DPF problems, so he thinks that his car does not have one, but I think it does. Can you settle the argument?
It would not have to have one. They did not become compulsory until January 2011.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

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