Kia Soul tyres
Each to their own… In America, Kia has found it hard to import the Soul quickly enough to meet customer demand. This has been driven by a series of television advertisements featuring, of all things, anthropomorphic hamsters. Yet in Britain, where advertisements featuring meerkats have proved equally bizarre and just as popular, this ‘urban crossover’ has found the public’s imagination rather harder to capture.
A lot of this comes down to the car’s appearance. If there was ever a car to polarise opinion at first sight, it’d be the Soul. To some, its boxy SUV styling is unique, modernist, quasi-military and bang on the money. For others, it’s plain ugly, resembling the head of a storm trooper from Star Wars and with so much plastic added to the exterior that it looks like an unfinished game of Mr Potato Head.
There’s certainly no mistaking the Soul, a car sold as much as a lifestyle accessory as for its mechanical credentials. Indeed its designer has said that his ethos was to make a car on which people check the colour combinations and trim before considering its price.
That price has proved lower than those of many of the Soul’s rivals. However, for British tastes the car is a hollow triumph of style over substance, all sizzle and no sausage. Its unique looks come at the cost of unimpressive dynamics, while its engines have to be worked hard, meaning increased fuel consumption. For many British drivers, it can also have too firm a ride, reportedly ‘boneshakingly’ so on models fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres. Additionally, the problem of high road and tyre noise has proved discouraging for many would-be owners.
Since the Soul is so thin in numbers in the UK, it is hard to make general statements about the kind of drivers to whom it will appeal or which tyres suit it best. However, it is a car designed for urban use, rather than the open road. It’s therefore safe to assume that most won’t be used for high annual mileages. Wet grip ratings should therefore be the main factor in replacement tyre choice, rather than fuel economy. A good rating for wet grip is an important safety consideration, promising better roadholding and sharper braking in all weathers. It also translates into better cornering and acceleration on both wet and dry roads.
All Soul models are factory-fitted with tyres from either Nexen or Hankook, in common with most cars across Kia’s range. The Nexen ranges favoured by Kia for the Soul are good ‘all-round’ tyres, combining good levels of grip, economy and durability. Importantly, they are also solid middle-market tyres, meaning that they are not prohibitively expensive to replace. Hankook produces the Kinergy Eco and Optimo ranges, both of which share similar middle-market status and suit the Soul accordingly. We’d therefore advise that damaged or worn tyres on a Soul should be replaced on a like-for-like basis whenever possible. This keeps the car’s settings as near as possible to those found at the factory gate and ensures that each wheel has a tyre of a similar pattern and type.