A Soul With A View: Kia Returns With Attitude And Fresh Features


The initial acclaim was almost universal as 15 motoring writers wandered among a party of balloons decorating a media briefing at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria, last weekend and poked, prodded and peered into at the remarkable new Kia Soul.

That it is remarkable there is no doubt, that it’s well-built, spacious, comfortable and has an excellent engine and incredibly slick gearbox is beyond dispute, but whether the Soul will sell in the numbers Kia’s Chetan Mehan is hoping for – well, only time will tell.

Well listen this time: Kia’s Soul is super. Get out of the groove and go for something completely different. Even Mr. Mike Ochonma, from BusinessDay Newspaper, my frequent driving partner, couldn’t find anything to grinch about in the car and we agreed that, if we had N2.9million and a need for a new car, the Soul would be way up on our list. Well damn well listen this time: Kia’s Soul is super.

It was really intriguing because I found out that the Kia soul is a car that handles very well, with all round good visibility.  I was impressed by the height you drive at for a car of its size. Great views when approaching junctions, whether they be roundabouts or closed T junctions.  The space inside for the passengers and drivers is only matched the boot space, so this would ideally suit a family of 4/5 easily.

Driving the Soul is fairly enjoyable. The chassis is tight. It feels sporty in some situations, such as quick turns. But it also garnered some complaints from one of the journalists who noticed the potholes against which the suspension offers little resistance.

.Anyway, Chetan plainly loves the Soul. “Never before has Kia made such a bold move,” he said. “The Soul defies convention and offers a world of possibilities for the young-at-heart and people with a sense of adventure.”

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At first sight it’s visually arresting. An aggressive front end instantly breaks away from any previous design language Kia had. The front leads to a compact square body with big wheel arches and a rear that looks like a space ship. And it gets wilder. Ever seen speakers light up in synch with the music? An iPod integration so intuitive you can figure it out in minutes?

In terms of exterior and interior design, the Soul is already hitting a home run with half of a thousand cars sold already. What about how it drives? Kia’s confidence in their product showed in the driving conditions they subjected their car to during this rainy afternoon. A pleasant drive from The Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, through Bonny Camp, to Osborne Road, with the assistance of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), back to Federal Palace Hotel gave us a thorough feel of the Soul’s driving capabilities.

It’s a decent five-speed automatic. The shifter really livens this up and lets the driver get the most out of the 142 torque under the hood. The throttle offers smooth uptake, too.

The back seat is comfortable with suitable legroom for me, anyway. It’s not a fast vehicle, but you can drive it fairly quickly and have a good time doing it.

The price of the Soul isn’t cheap. It starts at N2.6million for the manual model, to N2.9million for the automatic model. But for what you pay, you also get a lot of automobile. By coming out with the Soul, along with its very ambitious media test drive, Kia heralds a new chapter in its history. They now build cars that you want, not cars you feel compelled to buy. The bar on fun cars has been raised, now it’s the Japanese who have to catch up.

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