The Newly Refreshed KIA Soul 2012 Urban Crossover

In Kia by Jonathan Humphrey

Kia’s urban crossover revised for the 2012 model year

Kia’s innovative and hugely successful urban crossover, the Soul, has been refreshed from top to bottom for the 2012 model year. New or revised 1.6-litre engines and the introduction of a six-speed gearbox on all models improve performance while lowering fuel consumption, emissions and running costs. The distinctive and highly original exterior styling is now even sharper while continuing to emphasise Kia’s obsession with quality. This is reflected in the cabin, where changes to the fascia, console and trim raise standards even higher. And all versions have more equipment.

  • Increased performance with lower fuel consumption and improved emissions
  • Six-speed transmissions standard on all versions
  • New 1.6-litre petrol engine with direct-injection
  • Significant upgrades in interior quality and specification
  • Two trim grades plus two new ‘Soul Originals’
  • Priced from £12,495
  • On sale from 3rd October

The revised model is now on sale offering a choice of two regular trim grades, badged Soul 1 and Soul 2, and two ‘Soul Originals’, the Hunter and Quantum. ‘Soul Originals’ is a rolling programme of special versions with unique styling and trim, changed at regular intervals.


Lifestyle-driven, but practical with it

Soul is an urban crossover – small enough to be ideally suited to the world’s urban jungles, but totally different to conventional, workday small cars.  By combining the charm and desirability of the MINI and Fiat 500 with a hint of SUV ruggedness, Soul opened up an entirely new market sub-segment when it first appeared in 2008.

Like conventional superminis, Soul is a five-door, five-seat front-wheel-drive hatchback.  But within those parameters, it defies convention thanks to its fun-to-drive character, expressive interior and a seating arrangement which offers the flexibility of a medium-sized MPV or SUV within the footprint of a supermini.

Soul’s style is ‘tough not rough’.  It has a high bonnet with rounded forms, bulging wheel arches and a wide track.  The wheel arches are joined by a body side crease, while the roofline appears to slope gently down to the tailgate.  The beltline, which rises from the front wheel arch to create a gentle wedge shape, is continued under and around the third side window.  There are decorative air vents in the front wings, these incorporate sleek side repeaters on the entry-level version.

For 2012, Soul’s rugged charm has been given an even sportier twist with changes to the grilles, lights, front bodywork and wheels. A new bumper with a wider, lower air intake changes the proportions of the car and gives it a wider stance, and the grilles are now set off with cubic effect inserts which give it a more premium look. The new front grille is reflected at the rear, where a large tusk-shaped section in the bumper helps to visually stretch the width of the car.

The vertical rear light clusters have been revised and incorporate brake lights that wrap around the side of the car, while daytime running lights – bulb-type in Soul 1 and 2 and LED in the two ‘Soul Originals’ – add a touch of style to the black bezel headlamp units and make the car easier to see. The rear light pattern on models with LED rear lamps is identical to that on the 2006 Detroit Show Soul concept to which the production model so faithfully adheres.

Soul 1 now has body-coloured door handles and mirrors and a top-tinted windscreen, while Soul 2 gains muscular surrounds around its front foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels and folding electric door mirrors containing stylish indicator repeaters. All versions are 15mm longer than before to accommodate the new powertrains under the bonnet, yet remain extremely compact at 4.12 metres long.

The practical and spacious interior features a totally redesigned centre fascia, centre console and gearshifter which improve both usability and the feeling of quality. The upholstery in Soul 1 continues to be stylish all-black cloth, while Soul 2 has a new design of luminous ‘Soul Shine’ cloth. Soul Hunter is trimmed in either black or beige, depending on the exterior colour specified, with matching tartan colour trim that adds a charming and fun flavour to the interior.  Soul Quantum is trimmed in luxurious black leather.

More performance with lower running costs

Soul was the first Kia to use an all-new platform that has since been adopted in modified form for Kia’s other B-segment models, the Venga and new Rio.  It is powered by two 1.6-litre engines – a new direct-injection (GDi) petrol unit developing 138bhp – up 14bhp on the previous 1.6-litre – and a modified 126bhp turbodiesel (CRDi).  A six-speed manual gearbox replaces the five-speed unit previously used, while the CRDi engine is optionally available with a six-speed automatic in place of the former four-speed transmission.

The new powertrains bring significant gains in performance, economy and running costs. The diesel manual is now 0.6 seconds quicker from rest to 60mph (10.3 seconds), while more than 3mpg more fuel-efficient (57.6mpg). This is sufficient to bring its CO2 emissions down by 8g/km to 129g/km, which means owners are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) in the car’s first year.

The new petrol engine and six-speed gearbox combination, meanwhile, ensures the Soul delivers sparkling performance with impressively sparing use of fuel. It can accelerate from standstill to 62mph in 10 seconds, while its official combined-cycle economy is 44.1mpg.  With CO2 emissions of 149g/km, it sits in band F for VED, which saves owners £35 a year compared with the previous model. Both engines deliver the outstanding torque vital to modern UK motoring, with excellent power for motorway use.

Soul has a long wheelbase and wide track, with inherent benefits for stable handling and a comfortable ride.  The suspension of right-hand-drive models was fine-tuned in the UK ahead of the car’s initial launch.  Soul was the first of several Kias to have followed this path, recognising the particular characteristics of UK roads.  It has Kia’s motor-driven electronic power-assisted steering, which contributes three per cent to fuel savings compared with a conventional engine-driven hydraulic rack-and-pinion system.  Power assistance is provided only when needed, reducing power draw on the engine.

Soul comes as standard with electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD).  ESC intervenes to prevent skids by braking one or more wheels, reducing engine power or both if sensors detect the car may be in danger of going out of control.  EBD, meanwhile, automatically ensures that stopping power is directed to the four wheels in such a way as to ensure the car is brought to a halt in the shortest possible distance.

For 2012 these safety measures have been supplemented by Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). VSM uses the ESC sensors to detect when one side of the car is traversing a more slippery surface than the other, such as when there is ice, stranding water or wet leaves at the edge of the road. It then intervenes to stabilise the car. HAC holds the car on its brakes when setting off on inclines until the driver touches the accelerator pedal. In this way it is impossible for the car to roll backwards.

All the advantages of an SUV with none of the disadvantages

The first thing Soul drivers will notice, particularly those downsizing from an SUV or MPV, is the familiar command-post driving position.  The cockpit is compact and sporty, with a thick-rimmed four-spoke steering wheel and a three-dial instrument cluster beneath a tightly-curved cowling.  Yet Soul is anything but a self-indulgent car.  The unusually high roofline, which has its highest point just above the windscreen, and generous wheelbase, may lend Soul a bit of SUV attitude, but they also give the interior cavernous space.

In keeping with Soul’s rebellious, individual and urban character, Kia has ensured that every model has a six-speaker audio system capable of being linked to digital music players or other portable music devices.  From Soul 2 upwards, an iPod cable is standard, and all models now have steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Further up the range, the hi-fi grows to eight speakers, including a boot-mounted subwoofer and a dashboard centre speaker, and is powered by an external amplifier.

The standard specification is generous, with air conditioning, all-round electric windows, remote central locking and six airbags fitted to every model.  The 2012 Soul 1 gains Bluetooth with voice control, and sun visors with illuminated mirrors in addition to remote audio controls, electric mirrors, body-coloured door handles and a top-tinted windscreen.  Soul 2 has new 16-inch alloys, unique upholstery and folding mirrors. To top it off, all versions have Kia’s pioneering seven-year, 100,000 miles warranty.

Hunter and Quantum – the latest ‘Soul Originals’

In the spirit of a fashion collection, the Originals are frequently updated with new colour schemes and specifications and have proved popular since the first trio appeared in 2009.  Hunter and Quantum are the latest to arrive and each brings a unique style and high level of specification.

In addition to the well-specified ‘2′ trim level, both of the new Originals gain metallic paint, distinctive LED daytime running lights, an uprated eight-speaker stereo system with external amplifier and boot-mounted subwoofer, heated door mirrors and privacy glass to the rear windows and tailgate.  Cruise control is standard on automatic versions and will feature on manual versions from the end of the year.

The Hunter adds to this with 18″ alloy wheels, an electrically operated sunroof and a colour reversing camera which conveniently displays inside the rear view mirror when reverse gear is engaged. Hunter is available in Olive Green metallic, with a beige and tartan interior, or Moonlight Blue metallic with black and black tartan upholstery.

The Quantum is only available in Titanium Silver metallic and comes with 18″ black five-spoke alloy wheels, piano black bumper inserts and chrome exterior door handles.  On the inside is a black leather upholstery, heated front seats, climate control and reverse parking sensors.

Kia Soul – Performance and Economy figures


Power (bhp)

Torque (lb/ft)

Top Speed (mph)

0-60 mph

Combined mpg


1.6 GDi

138 @ 6300 rpm

122 @ 4850 rpm





1.6 CRDi

126 @ 4000 rpm

192 @ 1900-2750 rpm





1.6-litre CRDi auto

126 @ 4000 rpm

192 @ 1900-2750 rpm





Kia Soul – Pricing


Price – On the Road

1.6 GDi 1


1.6 GDi 2


1.6 CRDi 2


1.6 CRDi 2 auto


1.6 GDi Hunter


1.6 CRDi Hunter


1.6 CRDi Hunter auto


1.6 GDi Quantum


1.6 CRDi Quantum


1.6 CRDi Quantum auto


ABI Insurance ratings are to be confirmed.