A little bit of Soul on wheels

THE PROBLEM these days when choosing which vehicle to purchase is that many of them are so similar.

THE PROBLEM these days when choosing which vehicle to purchase is that many of them are so similar.

Sometimes with bakkies, only the emblem on the front distinguishes one manufacturer from another. With cars it can be a similar experience, especially in the small car market.

Many of the designs are much of a muchness, so perhaps that's why I enjoyed taking out the Kia Soul on a test run.

Dare to be different? Well the Soul definitely gets a tick in that square. Its shape is more box-like and with a whole lot of decals plastered over its body, one thing was for sure, it certainly stood out from the crowd.

Brochures describe it as a "compact, mini, multi-purpose vehicle", which is an apt enough description.

Normally I get worried when I see the word "compact". It's a nice description for a space that is likely to give you claustrophobia.

Thankfully the Soul is different.

When entering the vehicle you are struck by how spacious the interior is. Sure, it's designed for only four people, but the legroom, and just as importantly the headroom, are a pleasure.

Storage space is plentiful - with a bowl the size of a wishing well situated in the centre of the dashboard for loose change and other odds and ends.

The seats - with the Soul name emblazoned in the fabric - provide a comfortable ride and the adjustable steering wheel enables you to find an ideal driving position.

The engine was also something of a surprise package . a pleasant surprise that is.

I took it up to North West for a weekend away and its 1,6litre engine was more than willing - and shifting through its five-speed gearbox is as smooth as a fine malt whisky.

The Soul engine produces 91,2kW at 6300rpm and the manufacturers claim it has a top speed of 177kmh - which I don't doubt for a moment.

Hitting those long straights in the platinum province, the little car hugged the road with a reassuring stability, probably attributable to the independent front and twist-beam rear suspension system it's fitted with.

For those who enjoy a bit of comfort with their ride, the Soul won't disappoint.

Standard features include radio/CD plus iPod connections, six speakers and a steering wheel with audio controls.

Add to this, 16-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded side mouldings and mirrors, electric windows, airbags, power steering and air conditioning and the R189995 you can expect to pay is true value for money. Soul refers to a genre of music . I enjoyed this one's beat!