CJ Hubbard | May 2014
Our new car reviews help new car buyers research the latest models in plain English. We avoid jargon in our road tests to help you make an informed decision
The new Kia Soul is as quirky as ever: it’s now better to drive but no less standout to look at. The choice remains as before: one of these, or a Nissan Juke?
Richard Aucock | April 2014
The Kia Soul is huge in America; they sell hundreds of thousands there each year. Fitting, really: it was designed in California after all. But for all its utilitarian cool, the first generation model never really caught on in the UK. Buyers like quirky when it’s Nissan Juke-shaped, but not when the compact crossover looks like a Soul.
The incompleteness that pre-modern era Kias used to suffer also didn’t help. It wasn’t as well rounded as cars such as the latest cee’d. Kia’s thus having another go by using the current cee’d platform for its underpinnings (good start) and rolling out honed styling that aims to round off the excess blockiness that Europeans didn’t like.
The latest Soul is now a bit longer and wider, with a longer wheelbase, but it’s a bit lower. It looks more elegant in the metal – still with the a sort of US station wagon starkness, but now with a more deft touch that you’d expect of a Schreyer-era car. There’s nothing deft about some of the colours: this vivid green is particularly striking.
Kia will offer even more from the autumn when the Mixx and Maxx models arrive – contrast roofs, graphics packs, the lot. They’re very expensive though, and we don’t think the Soul has the cult-cool status to carry them off. Best instead consider its family-friendly capabilities instead.
What is the 2014 Kia Soul like to drive?
No great surprises with how the Soul drives, but no nasty surprises either. It’s perfectly able all round thanks to its cee’d-derived platform: it somehow has lost its multi-link rear suspension but as it’s not a B-road blaster, this shouldn’t hinder it too much.
Indeed, it’s more the soft settings Kia’s chosen for the new Soul that will cap any fast charging – but the pay-off for this is a sensible one: the in-town ride quality is excellent. Particularly impressive is its refinement, its ability to take the edge off potholes and cushion things very pleasantly indeed. It’s perhaps even better than the more Germanic Volkswagen Golf here. Just keep it steady when they do start to twist, aye…
Two engines sounds a simple choice but Kia makes it even easier by forgetting to give the 1.6 petrol any torque. The diesel is the clear choice; it exhibits that loose top-end clatter that most Kia 1.6 diesels do, but it’s nicely torquey enough and the six-speed gearbox is effortless to use.
Generally, the Soul is an undemanding and cheery thing to drive. Comfort is high on the agenda and that fits the ethos of the car well. Kia proves that not everything has to be rigidly sporting in its focus, and each time you drive in the city centre, you’ll be thankful.
Is the 2014 Kia Soul a family car winner?
The Soul is theoretically a Nissan Juke alternative but it’s actually a pretty decent alternative to the cee’d, for a little less cash to boot. Whereas the cee’d offers all-round Golf-like talent, the Soul focuses on the stuff families like: ride quality’s one, but so is space, equipment, a highly flexible layout and standout-different styling.
Not everyone will like how it looks but the families that do will love it. Once inside, they have a much better quality dash to enjoy, with a modern-look and slightly SUV appearance to it. Piano black adds a quality touch and, if you go for the expected best-seller Connect Plus, so too does touchscreen sat nav.
Make that widescreen touchscreen nav: Kia’s already-excellent high-res system has been made even bigger and more appealing. It’s coming to other models in time but the Soul previews it and its breadth of functionality will certainly appeal. Other kit count pluses standard on all models include DAB, air con and keyless entry: for the money, the Soul’s very well stocked.
And it’s great to sit in. All seats are high, with loads of drop-down legroom, and massive flat windows give a great view out. There’s a particularly boost to rear legroom over the old car, thanks to a longer wheelbase, and stepping in and out is easy (an important consideration if you live in the tight-to-park city). Newfound practicality to the boot lets you make best use of its near-Golf-like capacity.
MR VERDICT: 2014 Kia Soul
The new Kia Soul isn’t quite the leftfield urban cool machine Kia GB would like (and which it admittedly is in the US). People will still buy Fiat 500s and MINIs for that. They’ll also still buy Nissan Juke in their droves too: it’s expected to still outsell the Soul 10 to 1.
So what’s the appeal of the Soul? In offering something a bit different in the small family car sector, and doing many of the things growing families will value highly. All the lifestyle and ‘radical, man’ surfboard stuff will be lost on them, which may disappoint the marketeers, but if they can get past that and discover the Soul’s gentle charms, it’ll prove an interesting addition to add on the consideration list.
- Nissan Juke
- Ford Focus
- Volkswagen Golf
- Vauxhall Mokka
- Fiat 500L
Specification: 2014 Kia Soul
Engine: 1.6-litre turbodiesel
Drivetrain: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Prices from: £16,400 (1.6 CRDi Connect)
Torque: 192lb ft
Top speed: 112mph
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Sean Carson | January 2014
The original Mitsubishi ASX faced a tough task when it was launched back in 2010.
Offering a new car in the most crowded marketplace and in the direct aftermath of a global recession meant the mid-size Mitsubishi was always going to have its work cut out – especially against successful crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai.
But now the global economy is sprouting green shoots and the exchange rate between the Pound and the Yen is more favourable – not to mention stable – the ASX stands a better chance in 2014.
Add into the mix that the updated car also gets the option of the more powerful 2.2-litre turbodiesel and automatic gearbox from the larger Outlander SUV, and an improved interior with better refinement and more kit, and things look better still.
Prices start at £14,999 – that’s £2,500 less than before for the entry-level model – with the top-spec ASX 4 costing 10% less than its predecessor. Aggressive pricing like this could potentially pique the interest of customers who would have previously diverted to the nearest Nissan dealership and bought a Qashqai.
Plenty of practicality and a more upmarket, sophisticated interior for less than £15,000 sounds promising…
What is the 2014 Mitsubishi ASX like to drive?
But there has to be a catch, doesn’t there? Sort of. The larger 2.2-litre turbodiesel auto is only available on the range-topping ASX, costing £23,899.
But putting out 147hp and coming equipped with four-wheel drive, it’s still cheaper and more powerful than many of its rivals, such as the equivalent spec Hyundai ix35 at £26,995, the £29,305 Toyota RAV4 and the £27,650 Nissan Qashqai.
The former ASX’s 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8-litre turbodiesel are unchanged, so we only sampled the new 147hp 2.2 on the launch. Together with the engine’s 266lb ft of torque and six-speed automatic gearbox, it pulls strongly and smoothly.
It’s relatively hushed at a motorway cruise, but push the accelerator to the floor – and you’ll need to in order to match the claimed 10.8-second 0-62mph time – and the engine gets a little too vocal despite the improvements in refinement.
The ride is relatively composed but it is quite firm and becomes ruffled over bad surfaces and bumps. On the whole, however, the revised ASX is relatively comfortable.
It’s best used for covering long distances as it’s not the sharpest tool in the box dynamically – slow steering compromises agility, but the trade off is it does feel stable and solid at higher speeds.
It doesn’t roll too much in the corners, which aids the feeling of security, and the four-wheel drive system gives added peace of mind – it’s switchable between permanent two- and four-wheel drive, and features an ‘intelligent’ mode that shuffles power around if it sense any wheelspin.
We didn’t get chance to test the ASX off-road; the only time a wheel went on the dirt was to pass another car on a country lane. This is how most cars will be driven though, and on some rather wet, bumpy back lanes we no issues with traction.
Is the 2014 Mitsubishi ASX better than a Nissan Qashqai?
The 2014 Mitsubishi ASX does have price on its side, but it’ll have to beat the best in the business to succeed in the crowded crossover market.
The current champion is the Nissan Qashqai – the only off-roader to make it into the UK’s top 10 new car sales list of 2013, proving its ability and popularity. And there’s a new one on the way this year.
At 442 litres, the 2014 ASX’s boot is slightly larger than the new Qashqai’s 439-litre offering, so practicality shouldn’t be a problem.
The revised ASX’s cabin is an improvement on before, with more soft-touch materials scattered around and a few silver accents to lift the rather dark interior. However, there are some harder, scratchier plastics just out of sight.
The multimedia interface isn’t the most intuitive system to use, but together with a revised steering wheel and solid controls, the 2014 ASX feels more refined than before but just as robust.
To put that into context, it’s important to remember the Mitsubishi’s price and just how much equipment it gets as standard – every trim level is at least £2,500 cheaper than before.
All models get Bluetooth and keyless entry as standard, with the ‘3’ grade receiving climate and cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, and heated seats.
The range topping car benefits from a reversing camera, leather seats, sat nav and a panoramic sunroof with LEDs, although we’re not so keen on the gimmicky orange backlighting for the latter.
There is one area where the new Qashqai dominates the ASX, however: efficiency.
The range topping 2.2 turbodiesel auto will return a claimed 48.7mpg with 153g/km combined, whereas the upcoming 2014 Qashqai 1.6 dCi betters that by 8.9mpg more and 24g/km CO2 less.
This means £70 cheaper road tax, even if the Nissan is less powerful – in the real world, for many, this is what counts.
MR VERDICT: 2014 Mitsubishi ASX
The 2014 Mitsubishi ASX isn’t that much different to the previous car except for one key point: price.
It’s as practical as before and looks the same. The option of a new engine and transmission together with a few optimised points inside means it’s more attractive to buyers, but value is still its strongest suit.
The fact that it falls short compared to newer rivals when it comes to efficiency could sway some, but it shouldn’t, as the near £5,000 saving over the new Nissan Qashqai will go a long way in fuel. The Mitsubishi ASX makes more sense now than it has ever done.
- Hyundai ix35
- Kia Sportage
- Nissan Qashqai
- Mazda CX5
- Toyota RAV4
Engine 1.6-litre petrol, 1.8-litre turbodiesel, 2.2-litre turbodiesel
Gearbox Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic with paddleshifters
Price from £14,999
Power 114 – 147hp
Torque 114 – 266lb ft
0-62mph 10.2 seconds (best)
Top speed 118mph
MPG 47.1 – 55.4mpg
CO2 134 – 153g/km
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