Starter cars. Whether it’s literally your first car or something that you need to commute with for work (especially in the new normal), I can guarantee that the majority of those in the market for a starter car considers pricing. After all, you don’t want to splurge too much on your first vehicle, do you?
Now, does a lower price tag necessarily mean compromised quality and a lack of features? Not necessarily, and that’s what Kia Philippines wants you to consider in the Kia Soluto.
Introduced at the beginning of 2019 together with the company’s relaunch under Ayala’s wing, the Soluto promises an uncompromised feature set at an affordable price tag. Let’s take a closer look at the lower LX AT trim—the very variant you’ll look at if you’re particular about pricing.
Though sharing its platform with its mechanical twin, the Hyundai Reina, the Soluto is distinctively Kia. You won’t miss the tiger-nose grille that flanks the halogen headlamps and though this variant doesn’t come with fog lamps, that doesn’t take away from the class that this small sedan wants to employ up front. The fender-mounted turn signals for this variant is a bit dated, though.
Wheels are 14-inch steelies for this variant, but it comes with a cover so that should be fine. We can’t deny that the Soluto shares a lot with the Reina at the rear, so it does feel quirky to look at.
Kia knows that you spend more time in the cabin than staring at your car from the outside, and you can feel that inside the Soluto. Yes, there’s a shower of hard plastics – quite understandable given the price point—but the varying textures come into play. It’s also a relatively light cabin, plus the printed seats add a bit of pizzazz.
As a lower variant, expect the exchange of leatherette to polyurethane material, plus the lack of height adjuster for the driver. For my height at 5’6”, that isn’t so much of a problem, but you may want to get the higher variant if you want to sit tall inside the cabin. Space is as expected—comfortable for four average-sized human but a bit cramped for five healthier ones. Oh, as a bonus, the driver does have an armrest in exchange for the missing center console box. Storage points are aplenty, though, so you’re covered.
As for the trunk, you have 475 liters of usable space—one of the biggest in its class, mind you.
Tech & Safety
Probably the biggest clincher for the Kia Soluto is the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto even in its lower variant. Actually, that’s a Kia Philippines thing, as they understand the need of the younger set of car buyers for connectivity and seamlessness. In that regard, the Soluto doesn’t disappoint with its 7-inch touchscreen head unit. As is the presence of rear parking cameras with guide lines, which should make things easier especially for newbie drivers.
Safety-wise, the Soluto comes with the standards: dual front airbags, ABS, four three-point seatbelts (one lapbelt), and ISOFIX anchors. Although, I find it weird that this LX variant doesn’t come with an immobilizer, which is something that’s almost omnipresent in cars these days. Just don’t park in a sketchy area, okay?
Driving & Handling
Pop the hood and you’re looking at a 1.4-liter Hyundai-sourced gasoline engine that’s good for 94 hp and 132 Nm of torque. Those numbers don’t sound much but for a car that just weighs around 1,000 kilograms, they’re more than enough, and they can be felt while driving.
Low- and mid-range runs weren’t an issue at all, which is where you’ll likely be most of the time. The only limitation of the Soluto is its four-speed automatic transmission, which meant you’ll hear more of the engine at highway speeds. Steering felt light and assisted, though a bit vague at the center, but totally negligible in non-precarious drives. Front disc brakes prove to be so wonderful on this car, while the suspension setup’s rigidly comfortable.
Despite the high revs at high speeds, the Soluto was a thrifty highway cruiser, returning 21 km/l at an average speed of 90 km/h. That’s pretty impressive, and I tested that with two people aboard.
In the city, I managed to get 11.4 km/l—a mix of heavy, stop-and-go traffic and average rolling ones within BGC and Makati. Not bad at all.
At P710,000, the Kia Soluto in its LX AT trim is pricier than its Reina twin, but it’s still among the more affordable small sedans in the market today.
But as you’ve read here, it’s nothing short of a great starter car, fit for people who need an everyday commuter. I’d lie if I tell you that I won’t recommend this car for a first-timer, especially considering its standard five-year/160,000 km warranty and Kia’s promise of better after-sales services.