What is it?
The new Kia Soul – the Korean firm’s rival for the likes of the Skoda Yeti, Nissan Juke and Vauxhall Mokka – tested here in range-topping Maxx specification.
Maxx models are only expected to take a very small percentage of sales in the UK – equal to about 400 units in 2015 – with the majority of buyers instead opting for the Connect Plus model we tested earlier this year.
Fork out the £21,550 needed for this diesel-engined model, though – or £19,950 for the petrol-powered Soul Maxx – and you’ll find luxuries including leather upholstery, a part-digital instrument cluster, panoramic glass sunroof, keyless entry and go and striking 18-inch alloy wheels.
What’s it like?
Since we’ve already driven the Soul with this engine, let’s focus on the Maxx specifics rather than on driving impressions.
Suffice to say the comments from our original first drive in the 1.6-litre diesel are still valid – the Soul rides quite firmly, and the larger alloy wheels do it few favour in town where speed bumps and potholes send a nasty thud into the cabin. The steering’s devoid of feel, but its weight can be adjusted to suit the driver, although once you cycle through the three settings it becomes clear that the added resistance in ‘Sport’ does nothing to enhance the driving experience, but the 126bhp diesel motor is competent.
On the inside is where it matters with the Maxx, and first impressions are good. There’s leather trim in places, and soft-touch plastic furnishings in others, with contrasting stitching adding a touch of style to the cabin. The switchgear is nicely damped, and like the Connect Plus model, the Maxx is heavily laden with standard kit.
The Maxx’s part digital instrument cluster works well, replacing the rounded screen and dials of lesser models. It displays journey, economy and a variety of other data to the driver, and is well integrated – though the option of a digital speedometer would be a welcome addition.
Kia’s panoramic sunroof is nice touch on the Maxx, shedding light on what could be a relatively dark cabin. It’s controlled by a one-touch button up by the rear-view mirror, and opens and closes quickly. The only downside is a slight reduction in rear headroom, but the boxy roofline means most tall passengers will still be comfortable in the back.
Other luxuries, like the front heated seats and climate control, make it feel great value, but it’s hard to see why you’d want such things on what is designed to be a fun, accessible compact crossover. What does stand out is Kia’s eight-inch touchscreen navigation and infotainment system. It’s larger than most offerings in this class, and presents clear information and decent graphics, with a rapid response to driver inputs.
Should I buy one?
One of the Soul’s biggest selling points is still its looks – and especially in Maxx form it definitely manages to stand out from the crowd, even among other crossovers.
That said, at £21,550 this Soul is priced £1965 above the equally highly-specced Nissan Juke dCi 110 2WD Tekna. There’s no denying the Soul Maxx is packed with kit, and certainly looks the part, but we think the sweet spot in this range lies with the cheaper Connect Plus model, rather than this flagship version.
Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi Maxx
Price £21,550; 0-60mph 10.8sec; Top speed 112mph; Economy 56.5mpg; CO2 132g/km; Kerb weight 1538kg; Engine 4-cylinders, 1582cc, turbodiesel; Power 126bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 192lb ft at 1900-2750rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

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