We all knew it was just a matter of time until the floodgates were opened and manufacturers are now setting sights on a growing segment in the local car market. No, I’m not talking about crossovers. The subcompact sedan segment has always been alive and well, and these cars have always enjoyed good sales numbers, what with their good price tags and efficient engines. Value has always been a strong suit for these vehicles, and Kia, now with the Ayala Corporation’s AC Industrials at the helm, has decided to stir up the market in the best way possible – by introducing a value-packed subcompact sedan that starts at P625,000.
First car buyers may have their interests piqued by now. Kia has graciously handed us the keys to a white Kia Soluto 1.4 EX AT for a few days, and we are here to find out if this top-level Soluto warrants the price tag that puts it up against some stiff competition.
Let’s get this out of the way; yes, the Kia Soluto rides on the jointly-developed PB platform with Hyundai’s Reina, so the dimensions are almost identical. But in terms of overall looks, the Kia Soluto is the winner in my book. The tiger nose grille and wider openings of the front fascia give the Soluto a more appealing look, and the tastefully executed chrome bits, (fake) vents, and projector foglamps make it look like there was more thought given in the design process.
The side is your typical soapbox shape sedan affair, but this top trim Soluto does wear a nice set of 14-inch alloys. The rear is where it gets a little bland, with a simple combination taillight with a single rear foglight and a slightly extended upper trunk; almost giving it a tiny spoiler. A slight disconnect from the front, but it’s a look that does grow on you. Tiny touches like the chrome door handles, blacked out B-pillar, and body-colored side mirrors with LED indicators are nice additions.
Step in side the Soluto and you’ll be happy to see that great strides were taken by Kia elevate the cabin experience. Yes, plastic is found all over, but the execution and finish is nice and tight. There are even small bits of chrome at the edges of the nifty 360 degree aircon vents, infotainment cluster, and instrument binnacle. The seats are of a leatherette material, and the two tone grey with beige works well. They do get very hot, though, if you leave the car parked under direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time, especially if you don’t have tint. The synthetic leather steering wheel is meaty and nice to hold, and the driver’s side armrest is a nice convenience. Although, there were times that I found my passenger using the part where my elbow wasn’t resting, so it works both ways, I guess?
Airconditioning works great from a no-fuss rotary knob setup, and the overall cabin dimensions were fine for a taller person like me. The same goes for the back seats, but add a third passenger and things can get tight. Cupholders are standard, and door pockets can accommodate a bottle and other small items, and there are actually a good number of logically placed storage compartments up front. Those window controls at the center stack are something to get used to, though.
This is where the Soluto starts to shine, especially in the infotainment department. A 7-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard and offers bluetooth, aux and USB inputs, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making the smartphone integration of the Soluto the best in class. The head unit works flawlessly, but can sometimes we washed out in the bright sun. All of this plays through a six speaker setup. Nice.
You’ll also find that the Soluto comes with front and rear foglights, headlight level controls, power mirrors, and a reverse camera with parking sensors. Steering wheel mounted bluetooth and audio controls are also standard. You also get a neat 2.8-inch LCD driving display nestled at the center of the gauges, and things like trip meters, range until empty, and fuel consumption are easy to browse through.
The Kia Soluto comes with a decent range of safety features that are expected for this class. Two airbags take care of the front passengers, and there are three point seatbelts all around; even for the center passenger in the rear. ABS is also standard, and the addition of ISOFIX mounting points in the rear and an immobilizer are a nice addition.
Powering the Soluto is a 1.4L gasoline engine that has impressive numbers for an entry-level sedan. You’re looking at 94 hp and 132 Nm of torque, trumping segment competitors by at least 12 hp. This is also the same engine found in the Hyundai Reina. In our tester, a four-speed automatic transmits the power to the front wheels, and the option for a five-speed manual is also available.
In the city, the Soluto feels light and easy to drive, especially since the electronic power steering makes it almost effortless. Give the accelerator a hard press and the Soluto obliges with a quick downshift. Granted, it can get a little loud in the cabin, especially with the engine screaming at lower gears. Hitting speed limits on our expressways is not an issue, and the Soluto is quick enough to merge with ease. Even at triple digit speeds, there’s an impressive amount of NVH insulation. Potholes and road imperfections are handled well enough, and engine noise is only prevalent when getting on the gas hard. Visibility is good all around and the short nose makes it a breeze to maneuver in tight driving conditions.
I did find that the transmission programming of the four-speed automatic likes to get out of lower gears right away, and can leave you wanting those extra RPMs of the previous gear to make it up a hill with good momentum. Not a big issue, since it does react to accelerator input nicely. Besides, canyon carving really isn’t on the menu for a car like this.
During our time with the Soluto, we were able to get a good number of kilometers of real world testing, and the highway runs were most impressive. At a constant speed of 80-90 km/h, we got at least 19 kilometers per liter, sometimes getting 24 kilometers per liter if conditions were perfect. In the city and slow traffic, we managed to get about 12-15 kilometers per liter. With a fuel capacity of 43 liters, maybe some long distance driving is in order?
If you’re looking for a small sedan that can handle your daily commute and still be good for a weekend trip or two, the Kia Soluto is a good choice. Class leading infotainment, a sizable amount of creature comforts, and a handsome exterior paired with a well put together interior make it worth that P735,000price tag for the top level trim.
The 2019 Kia Soluto 1.4 EX AT is an example of good value combined with excellent timing. Entry level car buyers are extremely lucky these days; we wish we had the same amount of choices when we started driving years ago.
94 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Kia Soluto 1.4 EX AT
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
4-Speed Automatic Transmission
Max Output (HP)
94 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
132 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Economy & Environment
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Electronic Brake Distribution
Anti-lock Braking System
Electronic Door Locks
Speed Sensing Door Locks
Lane Departure Warning System
Blind-Spot Detection System
Front Parking Sensors
Rear Parking Sensors
Push Start Button
Wheels Metal Type
7-inch Touchscreen AM/FM Radio, MP3, USB, Aux-in via 6 Speakers with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Bluetooth, USB, Aux-in
5 years (160,000 kms)
Electric Adjustable Seats
Steering Wheel Audio Control
Active Park Assist
Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring
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