Find a car review


Kia Soul Burner review

We sample Kia's Mini Cooper, Citroen DS3 and Skoda Yeti hunter, the striking Soul. Any good?

Evo rating
from £16,145
  • Capable handling, characterful looks
  • Diesel feels gutless, pricey in top spec

What is it?The Kia Soul, a car that combines SUV stance, mini-MPV practicality and Mini Cooper-chasing style and personalisation options. This one’s called the Soul Burner. It comes with a 126bhp, 192lb ft 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine and tops the range at a steep-sounding £16,145, though shouts about it via some mildly lurid graphics and trick alloys. More subtle Souls (and a 124bhp, 115lb ft petrol engine) are available from £11,500.

Technical highlightsIts dynamics were fine-tuned for the UK in conjunction with Lotus. That doesn’t mark a car out as unique these days, but it does show Kia’s commitment to tailoring its cars specifically for their markets. It’s the first of the firm’s cars to have had such a bespoke treatment, and as a result it feels worlds apart from Kia’s budget offerings of the past. US and European Souls get different set-ups, too.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

What’s it like to drive?Very capable. It’s easy to approach a car like this expecting tyre squeal and understeer at every corner, and while that’s the case if you really push on, 95 per cent of the time the Soul handles predictably. The ride is supple and the key controls – gearchange, pedals and steering wheel – all have impressive weighting for such a car. It’s clearly not hardcore driver material, but compared to a rival like the Citroen C3 Picasso, it’s a pleasant and welcome surprise.

The engine is its main sticking point, though. The diesel unit feels strained even at seven-tenths. Its claimed outputs feel optimistic, as does its 11.3sec 0-62mph time. Once you’ve trained yourself to make the best of its five-speed gearbox you can make swifter progress, but you’ll be a gear lower than normal on every corner and will need to go as low as third to pass lorries on dual carriageways effectively. The 1.6-litre petrol is the better choice.

Advertisement - Article continues below

How does it compare?This is one of those cars that fits into a number of markets. It’s better than a Citroen C3 Picasso or Nissan Cube if you’re comparing it to a direct, practical rival. It offers its own unique charm compared to a Mini or Citroen DS3, and will pull away buyers who prefer its boxy looks. Both of those cars are better drives, though. If you want a sub-SUV, we’d pick a Skoda Yeti. It’s a better drive than the Soul, has superior engines and, unlike the Kia, can be specced with four-wheel drive.Anything else I need to know?Like the Mini and the DS3, personalisation is key. Base-spec cars have 15in steel wheels, mid-range cars get 16in alloys, and the range-topping special editions, like this Soul Burner, get seemingly oversized 18in alloys. You can replicate parts of its look on lesser models, though, where you’ll find a better ride and the more pleasant petrol engine.


Engine1582cc, in-line 4-cyl diesel
Max power126bhp @ 4000rpm
Max torque192lb ft @ 1900-2750rpm
Top speed113mph
On saleNow, £16,145

Have You Considered

Mercedes GLE

2019 Mercedes GLE400d review – a worthy original

12 Sep 2019
Porsche 911 Carrera 4

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet detailed

12 Sep 2019

Mercedes-AMG electric car to target Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S

10 Sep 2019

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 revealed - VW’s electric revolution is here

9 May 2019

Most Popular

spy shots

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS spied – 718 to receive Rennsport treatment

More power, more aero and less weight are already on the cards for Stuttgart’s fastest Cayman
19 Sep 2019
Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 spied near-free of camouflage before October debut

All-new eighth-generation Golf is only weeks away from its reveal – this is all you need to know.
18 Sep 2019

New McLaren GT review – Woking muscles-in on Aston Martin’s home ground

Is McLaren’s first grand tourer just a toned-down supercar, or something more nuanced and special?
17 Sep 2019

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport - picked by Porsche

Goodyear has many close associations with premium global car brands, but being asked to develop a trackday tyre for Porsche's extreme 911 GT3 RS was a…
14 Aug 2019