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More than you bargained for

2019 Kia Soluto 1.4EX

Updated

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The B-segment subcompact vehicles have always been some of my favorite cars to review, because it’s always interesting to see how manufacturers package them to offer the best value-for-money features while still keeping prices reasonable. Every peso counts in this segment, which attracts not just first-time car buyers, but those with tight budgets as well. And that’s part of what makes the Kia Soluto so impressive.

Safe styling

While the Kia Soluto sports a design rather common to the segment, its shape is still impressively aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag of only 0.29 cd. The blacked-out B-pillars that extend to both front and rear windows are a nice touch, and in terms of functionality, the Soluto ups the ante by offering front and rear fog lamps, and mirror-mounted turn signals. Looks wouldn’t necessarily be the top priority for a first-time car buyer however. For someone trudging through the daily routine of work schedules, rushing to meetings, and getting stuck in horrendous traffic, their priorities would lie with what’s inside the car, which is where they would be spending most of their time. And this is where the Kia Soluto really delivers.

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Excellent interior

Sit inside the car for the first time and you’ll immediately notice the places where Kia went the extra mile. The fit and finish of the interior is excellent. Thanks to keen attention to detail, nothing looks out of place. The switches and knobs feel great to the touch, the leatherette seats are comfortable and highly supportive, with driver-side height adjustment. The steering wheel feels great to hold, and its audio buttons are high-quality as well. The leather-wrapped shift knob feels solid as you select gears. The front power window switches beneath the air-conditioning controls take some getting used to, but it doesn’t really take anything away from the driving experience once you do.

My favorite aspect of the Kia Soluto’s interior is its infotainment system. Once again punching way above its class, the seven-inch touchscreen is a highly responsive unit which powers six speakers. Even better, the unit features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, which is unheard of in this segment.

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The rear seats accommodate two passengers more comfortably than three because of a slight recess, but I’ve had three passengers at the back with no problem whatsoever. Leg room at the rear is exceptional, which complements its generous trunk space.

In short, the Soluto’s interior punches way above its class. I’ve seen 2-million Peso cars with interiors that were more poorly built than this.

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Potent power

The Kia Soluto is great to drive as well. It’s powered by a 1.4-liter gasoline engine that produces 95 hp and 132 Nm of torque mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. It’s a nimble handler around the city, and this is where it feels most at home. Its power delivery is immediate at low revs, making it easy to zip around and squeeze into tight spaces during overtaking or changing lanes. It does well absorbing road irregularities as well, thanks to its longer-than-average wheelbase, and keeps a relatively quiet cabin with great NVH levels. Just don’t pretend that the Kia was built for the race track, and your expectations will be well-managed.

All in all, Kia offers an impressively well-rounded package with the Soluto. A thoughtful, fleshed out interior, peppy drivability, and a decent safety suite (with two airbags, ABS, reverse camera, and rear parking distance sensors) combine with a highly-competitive price tag to produce a car that anyone shopping at this price range should seriously consider.

Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven

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