Redefining the basics: Kia Soluto 1.4 LX AT
There’s an interesting trend that’s going on in the sub-compact sedan segment of late, and it’s about the apparent step-up in the overall packaging of these supposedly “basic” cars. The market certainly has become more learned, and considerably more discerning when it comes to comparing features and specs against value for money over the closest competition of the car they initially have a gut-feel liking to, especially since virtually any information you need about your planned automotive purchase is available online. Add to that the shrinking disparity between competing models from the various brands- the “lemon” is basically extinct; they’ve all gotten so much better in terms of looks and performance, so competition has never been as tight.
Take the Kia Soluto for instance, which strikes me as a very sensibly designed and engineered car that apparently has been designed to have you ticking off a lot of boxes in a “essentials of a good car” list right off the bat. Actually, let’s do that essentials list right now:
Aesthetics: though the Soluto doesn’t exactly elicit strong emotions with its looks, its exterior design is clean and safe (as opposed to others with radical design cues that’d get old pretty quick) that borders on being a bit bland, if not for Kia’s signature “Tiger Nose Grille” that sits comfortably between smart-looking trapezoidal headlight clusters.
Drivetrain: The Soluto’s 1.4-liter Dual-CVVT gasoline engine (Kia one engine across all four variants) mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission makes the car quite sprightly despite the small displacement. Its 94hp and 132Nm of Torque output is well mapped out, providing an agile and effortless handling feel, not to mention enhanced fuel efficiency as a positive by-product of all those factors.
Comfort & Amenities: For a car in this class and trim (the Kia Soluto LX AT is just above the entry-level MT), the offerings are on the generous side. There’s ample room up front, and limo-level legroom at the rear. Seriously, supermodels or basketball players won’t have difficulty getting comfy in the back seat. Suspension is well-damped and not clunky. Audio from the sound system is pleasantly well balanced, i.e. clear and with robust bass, which leads me to my favorite feature- its Apple Carplay/Android Auto intrerface! Including it is a no-brainer, basically personalizing your Soluto with your own music playlists, enhanced use of Waze/navigation, access to your contacts list and of course safer hands-free text/voice communication, all while keeping your smartphone juiced-up.
Safety: Dual front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System, rear-view reverse/parking camera… ‘nuff said!
My only niggles really, are the very plasticky materials used on the dashboard, sidings and steering wheel; meaning there’s no degree of rubbery or leathery feel on these surfaces (that some synthetic surfaces have) to derive tactile pleasure from, but maybe some people won’t be bothered by it. The seats’ upholstery is also on the firm side, which may be a factor when it comes to long drives.
All points considered though, with a sticker price of P675,000 for this variant, I’d say it’s money well spent on a sedan that does away with what’s fancy-schmancy, and churns out a lot of real-world value by focusing on the essentials. The Kia Soluto 1.4 LX AT just raised the bar on what one would consider basic.
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