Some say it has a face only a mother could love, but the new Kia Soul certainly stands out from the crowd.

The second-generation Soul is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor and its bold and chunky design will more than likely grow on you. There are three regular trims – Start, Connect and Connect Plus and two more, Mixx and Maxx, will arrive later this summer.

I drove the 1.6-litre CRDi version, which develops 126bhp at 4,000rpm and 260Nm of torque. All versions of the Soul are front-wheel-drive, five-door SUV crossovers. Kia believe that many people want the semi-elevated driving position and perceived safety advantages of a 4x4, but not the higher fuel consumption and taxation that four-wheel drive entails.

Its upright stance, square shoulders and distinctive bumper flares instantly identify it as a Soul, though the model I drove looked a bit like a modern upgrade of Postman Pat’s bright red van. There’s more passenger and luggage space than the previous model, but there wasn’t masses of room in the 354-litre boot, although you could just about fit a buggy and a couple of bags in there.

Storage space rises to 1367 litres with the rear row of seats folded forwards. The driving position was good and all-round visibility was great.

New standard features include a DAB radio, Flex Steer variable power-assisted steering and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Also fitted to every model are painted bumpers, door handles and side mirror casings, keyless entry, air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted controls and six airbags.

Step up to the Soul Connect and you’ll get artificial leather cluster housings, door centre trim and armrests, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, Bluetooth and reversing camera.

With so many drivers now using smartphones or MP3 players for their in-car music, Kia took the decision to fit a DAB Radio with USB and AUX ports as standard and delete the CD player, helping to lower the height of the fascia for a more streamlined appearance.

The Soul is covered by a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty covering all labour and parts except those subject to normal wear and tear.

Towards the end of this year, there will be a 100 per cent electric version of the Kia Soul – the company’s first global commercial EV – with zero tailpipe emissions.

Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi
On the road: £17,500
Top speed: 112mph
0-60mph: 10.8 seconds
Fuel: 56.6mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 132g/km