I’VE finally dug my other half out from behind the sofa, where she’s been hiding since watching the 2012 film, Cabin In The Woods.

I’VE finally dug my other half out from behind the sofa, where she’s been hiding since watching the 2012 film, Cabin In The Woods.

She’s not been hiding there for two years – we only got around to watching it at the weekend.

I’d avoided it all this time because she’s not a fan of horror films and a quick glance at the cover showed a cabin … in the woods. Generic genre cliches galore, I told myself as I invariably opted for something featuring Scarlett Johansson instead.

But what-a-mistake-a-to-make-a. When we finally had nothing better to tempt us, we realised it’s one of the greatest and most surprising films we’ve ever seen.

[quote_center]As the ancient proverb goes, “don’t judge a blu-ray by its cover”[/quote_center]

The Kia Soul, with its boxy shape and shouty green paint, is almost shouting at passers by: “Judge me! Go on! You think I’m a cheap Korean hatchback with a novelty seven-year warranty to encourage sales!”

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Now, I wasn’t in the Motors HQ when the Soul was dropped off. Instead, I received an e-mail from one of our Front Counter Supremos who normally heads up the Test Drive Vehicle Delivery And Collection team.

She told me the colour was “hideous” and if she was still in primary school it would definitely be referred to as “snot green”. At least I had a heads up to how my kids would react … She also said it looked really small until she got up close, when it suddenly felt rather big.

So, while I tried to purge my mind of Frankie Howerd-esque retorts, I was already forming negative opinions.

This would turn out to be massively unfair on the Soul.

The colour didn’t do much for me, but once she’d stopped shaking from Cabin fever, the other half loved how vibrant and different it was.

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I love a car that’s a bit unique, too, and the Soul has it in spades. The boxiness is quirky without being too crazy and inside there are alternative takes on speakers with integrated air vents and “floating” tweeters.

And while we’re mentioning audio, there’s an eight-speaker Infinity system that can be set so mood lamps around the front door speakers light up with the beat of what you’re listening to. Ooh.

The interior surprises with it’s quality – all the buttons are solid and if you didn’t know, you’d think you were in a car costing far more money. Perhaps even something German.

But of course all this decorative stuff (which includes yellow stitching) is nice – but the drive is where the South Korean car will inevitably fall short. Sluggish performance, terrible handling, an uncomfortable ride and a wishy-washy frame are all things not to be found here.

No, no. The Soul is an all-round surpriser.

The 1.6 petrol engine does 0-60 in 10 seconds but feels punchier, with a top speed of 115mph and more than enough power to blaze your own path in the A30 fast lane. The gear box is good too – smooth and easy to shift.

It’s refined on the road and body roll is minimal given its shape. It’s a comfortable cabin, too – not only are the seats supportive and welcoming, but the ride is neither too hard nor too soft.

There might be a few too many buttons on the intimidating steering wheel, but the main console is laid out just right – a big dial for heating and clear labels for everything else.

The boot’s bigger than expected, too.

The Soul impressed me. In fact, it did more than that – it changed my preconceptions and turned them on their head. I was proud to be driving the Kia around.

If you like to judge your cars on badges and out-dated ideas then you might just be missing out. For the rest of us, the Soul starts at £12,600.

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Gareth Bartlett

Gareth Bartlett

Motors Road Tester at DCMedia
Gareth Bartlett

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