September 3rd, 2010

Feeling the burn: The Kia Soul Burner

Ever since I first saw a Kia Soul trundling down the road, purporting to be just ‘a car,’ with a normal looking person at the wheel, I was enamoured. It’s a fantastic looking thing. God knows where the stylist got his ideas, but wherever it is, I want to visit.

Problem with making such good first impressions though, is that when you get down to actually meeting your new hero, it might be appalling and a total let-down. I had such concerns when Kia sent me a Soul Burner to drive recently.

Luckily, said concerns were expunged quite quickly. Indeed, I’ll now list the 5 things I like about it the very most.

5. The shape

It’s a big square looking thing, but I just adore it. Nothing else besides perhaps the Nissan Cube is quite so freakishly wonderful. It’s aggressive, bulky, and looks a bit like it should be sporting camouflage and transporting armed men. It’s just brilliant.

4. The interior

OK, it’s not made from granite and chrome plated platinum, but despite the fairly inexpensive materials, it looks as good as the outside does. And so it should. The Burner model has a red dashboard, a red steering boss, and various other red bits, all of which feel nice and look fabulous, contrasting against the blackness of the paintwork. The transparent gear-knob is a clever touch, as are the red LEDs in the speaker surrounds. Which brings me on to…

3. The audio system

It’s made or excellence. 7 speakers and a sub make the bassy yet crisp sound, and the iPod interface is simple to use and displays all of the useful track information. Steering wheel controls make things easier when on the go.

2. The suspension

Kia say it was set up for UK roads, and I believe them. Despite its tallness and fairly smooth ride, body roll is minimal in the Soul, which allows you to drive with confidence on all kinds of roads, potholed or otherwise. Don’t expect infinite grip, though, the Soul isn’t a sports car.

1. The drive

Driving the Soul is a bit like playing an xBox game with a driving wheel. It’s really, really easy. No effort is required to operate any pedals, change gear or steer. You can glide along the road in comfort, and all the while, you can look like a badass.

In fact, there’s very little to fault with the Soul. But I have to be fair, so I struggled and struggled until, after much effort, I came up with 5 improvements Kia could make to the next generation model.

5. A tail-gun.

The Soul’s square design means that it has a flat bottom, behind which white vans and other tailgaters can get very, very close. To rectify this, Kia could fit a .30 calibre machine gun, which would be controlled from the rear seats. That way, people who dared to get too close could be taught the error of their ways by your nan/ daughter/ friend, or whoever else was sat in the back.

4. Caterpillar tracks

It looks like a military vehicle already, so why not finish it off with a set of tank tracks? As well as looking brilliant, they’d be fantastic for the winter, and for running over errant Rover Metros.

3. A Perkins CV-12 engine

If I had one niggle with the Soul, it’d be that the 1.6-litre diesel was a little bit small. It was also far too refined to be fitted to a military vehicle, so a suggested swap would be the Perkins CV-12, which produces 1,200hp and has a displacement of just over 26-litres. It’s far more suitable.

2. Snowplough

Coupled with caterpillar tracks, a snowplough would give the Soul perfect winter car credentials, with the added bonus of allowing you to clear away double parked cars. You’d also be able to charge your neighbours to clear their driveways of snow or other obstacles.

1. Radar guided missiles

Why wouldn’t anyone want radar guided missiles on their car?  They’d be perfect for getting rid of slow traffic. The radar which guides the missiles could also be used to inform the driver of approaching weather systems, which is just an added bonus, and one that hooks into the plough and caterpillar tracks.

And so there we have it. The Soul is brilliant, but with just a few tweaks, it could be perfect…

John Slavin

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