Kia has struggled for a long time to venture into the sport-compact market. The competition is absolutely cut-throat due to big players like Volkswagen GTI, Ford’s Fiesta ST and Focus ST. However, the new turbocharged version of the Kia Soul shows some promise.
What does the 2017 Kia Soul Turbo offer?
At first glance, the car seems to be playing a similar sort of game. Red exterior accent lines are evocative of the GTI’s aesthetic, a flat-bottomed steering wheel suggests some degree of raciness, and larger 18-inch wheels give the boxy Soul a more athletic stance. It also has a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four making 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque— not revolutionary, but can’t be ignored as well.
Noteworthy features of 2017 Kia Soul Turbo
Don’t confuse the Soul with a sport compact or hot hatch – it is more of a crossover, to be at par with the Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, and Fiat 500X. In fact, it is the best seller in that segment! This car pairs only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic—no manual transmission is offered with the turbo. Its 45-series all-season tires and 18-inch wheels are the same size as the optional wheels and tires offered on the Soul Plus which has a 161-hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. Kia did install slightly larger, 12.0-inch-diameter front brake rotors for the turbocharged model, but the 10.3-inch rear discs are the same on all Souls.
How is the driving?
The engine runs quite smoothly with mostly linear power delivery, strong midrange torque, and a decent-sounding engine note. The dual-clutch transmission has got favorable feedback too, due to its quick shifts, and low-speed clunkiness (it happens to torque-converter-less automatic gearboxes) kept to a minimum. There are no paddle shifters, but there is a manual shifting option in the torque-converter-less automatic gearboxes. While driving the Kia Soul Turbo, it is recommended you drive in Sport mode, as it adjusts transmission shift points and throttle response to be a bit more aggressive. Moreover, the gearbox can be reluctant to downshift in Normal mode. If you feel the steering wheel feels slightly heavier, don’t worry, because it has no effect on the electrically assisted steering rack’s lack of feedback and on-center feel. Body roll is nicely controlled in corners, the all-season rubber has a reasonably high grip threshold when pushed on twisty roads, and there’s a commendable lack of torque steer.
Last but not the least, despite having 40 more horsepower than the 2.0-liter car and 71 more horsepower than the base 1.6-liter model, the 2017 Kia Soul Turbo beats both in EPA fuel economy, at 26/31 mpg city/highway.