Cars

For a First-Time Car Buyer, the Kia Soluto Delivers on (Nearly) All Fronts

You should seriously consider this subcompact sedan from the Korean carmaker.
IMAGE PJ Cana
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Few events in a man’s (or woman’s) life are as memorable as buying your first car. In the Philippines especially, where public transportation leaves a lot to be desired, “graduating” from being a jeepney or MRT commuter to driver of your own car isn’t just a dream come true; it’s become a fulfillment of a basic existential necessity.

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Which is why there is no shortage of offers from automobile makers for that ideal car for first-time car buyers. The Soluto from Kia is one such vehicle, and for a basic five-seater subcompact sedan, we think it packs quite a punch, and one you should seriously consider if you’re on a budget and in the market for your very first car.

Photo by PJ Cana.
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From the get-go, the Soluto is a looker, and the color of the test unit has a lot to do with it—topaz blue at first glance but with touches of sea green emerging when the exterior hits sunlight. The front has that Kia signature, which it calls a “Tiger Nose” grille, and as far as aesthetic flourishes go, it does the job of making a model that would normally seem meek and modest look like it has something powerful to say. 

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The Soluto comes in four variants: the LX M/T, the LX A/T, the EX M/T, and the EX A/T, all of which come fitted with a 1.4-liter inline-4 dual CVVT engine. The EX is the top-of-the-line model, but if you can live without features like alloy wheels (instead of steel with wheel caps), fog lamps, chrome door handles, leather (instead of polyurethane) steering wheel and gear shift knob, and leatherette (instead of cloth)-covered seats, then the LX should be just fine. 

The inside is snug but not constricting; head and leg space are adequate, but I’m an average-sized guy (5-foot-seven) and I didn’t get any occupants that pushed six feet and over. The infotainment system is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I can’t say that I tried either, but connectivity either through Bluetooth or USB (which I DID try) was a breeze, and that was enough for me.

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One thing I truly appreciated about the Soluto was an armrest on the driver’s right-hand side. Hands on the 10 and 2 position, we’re taught in driving school, but on long drives, I can appreciate a place to relax my elbow or whole arm. 

I do have to wonder about the thinking behind placing the power window switches on the center console instead of their usual place on the door. I got a bit flustered and disoriented when approaching places like the toll booth (yes I stilll pay cash, but that’s another story), and paying and picking up my drive-through order. But hey, you’re probably going to get used to it when you own the car and are driving it everywhere. 

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And yes, it’s a car that you’re going to want to drive everywhere. In the few days I had it, I took it to Cavite where my parents live, along the expressway and on pockmarked city roads; to the grocery store; to a fast-food run; and on short drives around the city. Kia engineers must have done something right because the suspension system felt topnotch—road bumps were reduced to the dullest of thuds. It’s probably not going to win any speed trophies, but for a dedicated, everyday vehicle, it’s an uncomplicated workhorse that gets the job done. 

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And the best part? You get all of that for a car that starts at just P665,000 (for the LX M/T model; the 1.4 LX AT is P710,000, the 1.4 EX MT is P710,000, and the 1.4 EX AT is P755,000). For a car that fulfills that “existential necessity” of carrying you from one place to the next, the Kia Soluto is also suprisingly affordable and would make a great first car for anyone making that monumental jump from public transport commuter to driver. 

Photo by PJ Cana.
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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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