2018 Kia Soul – The Hamsters Goes Turbo

The Soul has been out for a few years now and it’s still the little quirky brother in the Kia lineup. It doesn’t fit in the SUV market as it doesn’t have all-wheel-drive but it’s not really a hatchback as it’s quite spacious inside. 

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While the exterior looks aren’t for everyone it does have a pug-esque looking front end which some may like. And out back the tall vertical led taillamps are distinctive, to say the least. On this the turbo trim, there’s little bits and pieces that make it a bit more unique. Starting with big round fog lamps up front to the red pinstriping on the lower bumper and sills. For wheels, Kia gave the Soul bit more …well soul, there are 18″ wheels on 235 wide tires offering plenty of traction for the little turbo motor inside. 

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Inside the top of the line trim, there’s plenty of nice materials around and there’s tons of light that comes in from the panoramic sunroof. A mixture of leather and cloth covered the seats and plenty of soft-touch materials all over. In the centre, we get an 8” display with Apple CarPlay Android Auto and a very easy to use menu system. If you remember the commercials of the Soul then you would remember the hamsters that came alongside this little hatch, there are led mood light rings around the speakers that can be beat activated. 

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Under the hood, there’s a 1.6 Turbocharged engine that makes 201 hp and 195lb-ft all that grunt is pushed thru a 7-speed dual clutch to the front wheels, sadly a manual is not offered. It’s sportier than some may think, even with the taller and boxier outlook the Soul can out accelerate the new Civic SI to 60 mph. Car and Driver say it takes just 6.5 seconds making this little box quite quick. The downfall would be when driving around town the transmission tends to be a bit rough. Most notable is going in reverse where it feels like there’s a learning manual driver. 

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What’s surprising was handling, as it is a tall hatchback with a torsion beam rear suspension it’s actually quite nimble. Steering is light yet confident, with sport mode it does wake up just a bit to help with a bit more feel. There’s even an eco mode to help you save a bit at the pumps. In fact, the turbo is rated to 9.1L/100km in the city and 7.7 on the highway. These figures are actually better than that of the 2.0L model and don’t think it’s hard to achieve. It’s easy to keep the revs down and maximize fuel efficiency.

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At $30,000 it’s not the most expensive little hatch especially with all the power and options this has but without AWD it’s not really an SUV and it’s not really a hatch with it’s tall and boxy shape but it is unique and it is better than most expect. Best yet, it’s very lovable engine makes the Soul more fun to drive. 

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