SUPER PACKAGING POTENTIAL

Kia expects the better-equipped next-step-up 2.0L Soul “+” model to represent the most popular choice. At $14,950, it squares off at the soul (sorry, had to) of the compact car market, as the segment’s most desirable Korean import. Even Kia admitted that it would cannibalize sales from its Spectra5 model. Upgrades include alloy wheels, a more powerful 2.0-litre engine, disc brakes, a speaker upgrade, cruise control, keyless entry, Bluetooth handsfree connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and body colored door handles and mirrors.

But how is it to drive? Compared with the compact class benchmark Honda Civic, the Soul also exudes a tied-down feel that’s rare in its class. Quick steering, coupled with good visibility meant I wished for more city streets to test the car’s undoubtedly in-town strengths. Kia told us during the presentation they had benchmarked the Dodge Caliber, Suzuki SX4, Scion xB, and upcoming Nissan cube — though for my money I’d also add the larger Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix to the list.

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