Historic

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
1
of 41

In between

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
2
of 41

Target

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
3
of 41

Eyeliner

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
4
of 41

Like a tiger

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
5
of 41

Cash money

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
6
of 41

When I was 18

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
7
of 41

Room with a view

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
8
of 41

Let it all out

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
9
of 41

Look at me, look at you

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
10
of 41

Spoilt

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
11
of 41

A moment of reflection

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?

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
12
of 41

Wrap it real good

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
13
of 41

Haven't I seen you before?

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
14
of 41

Slippery customer

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
15
of 41

Sight for sore eyes

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
16
of 41

Let me think

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
17
of 41

Booty talk, part I

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
18
of 41

Booty talk, part II

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
19
of 41

Saving space

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
20
of 41

Booty talk, part III

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
21
of 41

In the rear

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
22
of 41

Split level

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
23
of 41

Grainy

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
24
of 41

There's no other store?

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
25
of 41

Odd spot

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
26
of 41

Simple touch

Instrument lighting is clear and classy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
27
of 41

Hiding hole, part I

This cover is particularly difficult to open...

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
28
of 41

Hiding hole, part II

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
29
of 41

Cold air

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
30
of 41

Louder!

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
31
of 41

Cruise on through

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
32
of 41

Shifty

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
33
of 41

Sounds simple

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
34
of 41

Nothing on

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
35
of 41

Mr Squiggle

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
36
of 41

Digital connections

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
37
of 41

Let's get it on, part I

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
38
of 41

Let's get it on, part II

...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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
39
of 41

Bass boot

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
40
of 41

Unhappy mood

The rear speakers are strangely not graced by light rings.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
41
of 41
Up Next

Dream Uber rides: The 10 best cars to pick you up at the curb