The 2017 Kia Soul is a compact family car before it’s anything else. But with 201 horsepower, a legit dual-clutch seven-speed transmission and red accents all over it, the Turbo “!” trim sneakily tries to say it’s sport compact car. So we let it stretch its stubby legs in the California canyons to see how it’d hang.
Kia doesn’t really advertise the Soul Turbo as a “driver’s car.” But somebody knew damn well what they were implying with the farkle that’s been sprinkled all over this thing. Besides the red lines on the outside, the Soul Turbo has accent stitching in the seats, a boost gauge, “sport mode” to exaggerate the response of the electronic throttle and a steering wheel that’s not round.
I probably don’t have to tell you that this car’s not Focus RS-fast, at all, but the transmission snaps off shifts with more urgency than you’d expect, and the rest of the Soul Turbo doesn’t seem terribly far behind it.
This still probably isn’t the car to buy if performance is a priority, but I thought the driving experience was a pleasantly, surprisingly, engaging for a $25,000 economy car.