There is reason for distress, or at least concern, with the rising number of new COVID-19 cases. For good or bad, many are not waiting with bated breath for the eventual outcome because, well, life has to go on. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that for life to go on, we need to heed the danger of the virus. It has already taken too many of us.
The public transportation hurdles Filipinos face are well-documented and aren’t going away anytime soon. The capacity cannot in any shape or form get back to pre-pandemic levels, particularly since we have seen gaps in the system which the coronavirus would only be too glad to exploit. Exhibit A was the almost laughable perfunctory “cleaning” by a couple of MRT-3 staff that made them instant online celebrities.
The point here is that, yes, we have a ways to go from reaching a semblance of normalcy – particularly when so many are still antsy about getting jabbed in the arm with a vaccine.
Until that blessed day when we can declare mastery over the virus, people who didn’t even consider getting their own set of wheels are constrained to basically pull the trigger on their own set (or pair) of wheels. Private transportation is incumbent in the not-so-new normal.
For households watching their budget like a hawk, is there an option that won’t break the bank?
Kia Philippines says yes – and its reply comes in the form of the Kia Soluto. Starting at a reasonable P665,000 for the 1.4 LX MT, it’s money well spent if you get this subcompact for your garage.
The 1.4 EX MT (P710,000) I tested underscores the value you get for this well-developed model. Its cabin promises decent space for both front and rear occupants. There’s adequate wiggle room even for taller travelers. The two-tone seats are a welcome, upmarket-like sight, although I found the cushioning bit too firm. The Soluto redeems itself with a driver’s armrest which can be rotated out of the way if you don’t feel like laying your arm on it. The hard plastic dashboard betrays the Soluto’s affordability, but there are plenty of toys and features which allow the car to punch above its price.
If you’re lugging lots of stuff along, you can just throw them into the boot, which can accommodate 475 liters of cargo.
Value features include power-adjust side mirrors, chrome exterior door handles, projector foglamps, headlamp leveler, and side mirror-mounted turn lamps. A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is friendly to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio jack, USB port, and 12-volt socket (with cover) are very ideally located down in the center console. The touchscreen also serves as the reversing camera screen – with guidelines to boot.
The instrument panel is, truth be told, a little spartan, yet still gives you the data that you need to know. A 2.8-inch LCD cluster presents the usual numbers, temperature, and fuel amount. Surprising for the price point are audio controls on the steering wheel, which are elegantly ensconced within a piano-black surface. Stop feeling for the power window controls on the side though; they’re located on the center console.
A 1.4-liter dual CVVT gas engine blurts out 95ps and 132Nm. Automatic-transmission versions have four speeds; manuals have five. The sweet rev spot for the EX I tested is a little above 2,000rpm. Unfortunately, that’s also the rev rate when the computer starts suggesting you upshift – in the name of fuel economy, of course. The clutch was very compliant, and the short-throw gearshift was a nice touch.
The Soluto can get a little stiff on the ride, while giving you a sense of how light the chassis is. That’s probably the biggest giveaway that you’re in budget territory. All said, this Kia definitely deserves a look if want a value-for-money ride without ripping your budget to shreds.