Historic

In between

Target

Eyeliner

Like a tiger

Cash money

When I was 18

Room with a view

Let it all out

Look at me, look at you

Spoilt

A moment of reflection

Wrap it real good

Haven't I seen you before?

Slippery customer

Sight for sore eyes

Let me think

Booty talk, part I

Booty talk, part II

Saving space

Booty talk, part III

In the rear

Split level

Grainy

There's no other store?

Odd spot

Simple touch

Hiding hole, part I

Hiding hole, part II

Cold air

Louder!

Cruise on through

Shifty

Sounds simple

Nothing on

Mr Squiggle

Digital connections

Let's get it on, part I

Let's get it on, part II

Bass boot

Unhappy mood

We take a close look at the interesting and practical elements of the first Kia, not suitable for shrinking violets.

Previewed in a series of concept cars, the production Soul was launched in Australia in early 2009.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul is sized between the smaller Honda Jazz and larger Toyota Rukus.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul is targeted at the young, or young at heart, who like individual-looking cars. They may also be interested in blinging their car up with decals, wheels and paint jobs.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul³ comes with a plastic eyeliner for the indicator lights.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Since the company hired the designer of the original Audi TT, Peter Schreyer, all Kia vehicles feature a corporate grille dubbed the "tiger nose".

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul starts from AU$20,990 and rises to a rather steep AU$32,890 for the Soul³ pictured here.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul³ comes fitted with a fine pair of 18-inch alloy wheels.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul marks Kia's emergence from being just a purveyor of cheap cars loaded with tonnes of kit.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Side vents are all the rage now, from the high-priced Jaguars to everyday Commodores. The ones on the Soul are purely cosmetic.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

When you're as extroverted as the Soul, you may as well go all out and have a chrome fuel filler cap.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

A contrasting black spoiler sits atop the rectangular tail-gate.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Who would've thought a few years ago that a Kia would have as much on-road presence as the Audi R8 or the Volkswagen Karmann coupe seen in the reflection?

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul has blacked out windscreen pillars to fool us into thinking the windscreen wraps around.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The rear tail-lights remind us a lot of the dearly departed Skoda Roomster's.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

All too often the door handles slipped from our grasp with a thud, revealing a door still closed.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The dashboard is nicely designed, with the two-tone colour scheme particularly pleasing. Shame it reflects badly in bright sunlight.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Soul³'s fold down arm rest for the driver aids languid driving.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Not particularly deep, the tall boot suffers from having a high load lip.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Underneath the boot floor is a set of concealed storage compartments.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Underneath the hidden storage space is a space-saver spare wheel.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Loading room is greatly increased when the rear seats are folded down. Unfortunately, they don't quite lie flat.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Rear-seat space is adequate, even behind a tall passenger. The bench is too flat, though.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The glovebox features two levels, the bottom of which doubles as the lid and could crush items if one isn't careful.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

It's nice to see that the designers have paid attention to the little things, like making sure that the grain of the dashboard and door trim match up.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Can't say we're a fan of the seat trim, which does its best to remind us of the department store that isn't Myer.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

There's leather for the door trim, steering wheel and gear knob, but not the seats. The door pulls have a nice rubber feel to them.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Instrument lighting is clear and classy.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

This cover is particularly difficult to open...

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

...but is a good space to store a pair of sunglasses.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Air conditioning is standard throughout the Soul range, but unfortunately not even the AU$30k Soul³ diesel has climate control.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Steering wheel audio controls are intuitive enough to use by feel alone.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The cruise control, umm, controls are similarly well thought out. Dashboard lights inform you of when the system is on and also when it's regulating speed.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

A five-speed manual transmission is available on lower spec models, but the Soul³ comes exclusively with an old-school four-speed auto.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The sound system is easy to navigate, even when scrolling through large lists with the Tune dial.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Silence is accompanied by a clock and an outside temperature gauge.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Yet more neat work by the guys and girls in Kia's design department.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

An auxiliary jack and USB port are standard across the Soul range, but you'll have to pay extra for a Hyundai/Kia cable that allows to you to access and charge your iPod/iPhone/iPad.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

This dial underneath the Soul³'s steering wheel...

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

...controls the light rings around the speakers. The lights can be set to on, off, a throbby mood light or to beat half-a-second out of time with the music. The rings only light up in various intensities of red.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The boot holds a subwoofer and a 12V power point.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The rear speakers are strangely not graced by light rings.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET Australia
Updated:
Up Next
Jeep Wrangler, Subaru Ascent lead a...
54