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It will hit the roads in Australia early next year, probably priced around $20,000, but the first chance to get a look at the production version of this all new model for the Korean manufacturer will come at the Paris Motor Show later this year.

Kia Motors Corporation announced that the production version (that’s the first official picture of the final version) of the Soul – and it will be keeping that name in a major win for Kia design chief Peter Schreyer – will be launched in Europe later this year.

Kia Motor’s Australia spokesman Jonathan Fletcher said the Soul would be launched in Australia in early 2009.

The all-new car is expected to revitalise the Korean brand with the younger buyer market.

CarAdvice understands the final specification of the Australia cars has yet to be determined but Kia insiders who have seen the final versions of the vehicle say it’s interior packaging, in particular, is “very innovative” and they believe it will have strong appeal in the local market.

The car is similar in looks to the Suzuki Swift, which has seriously revived that company’s moribund sales, and is about the same size as a Suzuki Sx4, one of the models with which it will compete directly.

Kia’s official release on the car says that the all-new production model will retain the spirit and name of the SOUL concept cars shown earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show and the first SOUL concept car which debuted at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“Reaction from the media and public to the three SOUL concept cars first unveiled at the Geneva Show in March and shown subsequently at other international events, has been overwhelmingly positive,” enthused Mr Hyoung-Keun Lee, Senior Executive Vice President and COO, International Business Division, Kia Motors Corporation.

“This reaction, plus the fact that both physically and emotionally, the SOUL concept cars are so closely related to the new Kia Soul production car, made it a natural choice to retain this evocative name.

“The SOUL concept cars reveal a whole new ´fun´ side to Kia. They signal that our new Kia Soul production model is poised to defy conventions and offer buyers a ´world of possibilities´ for expressing their personality.“This new model will reach out to new groups of consumers, appealing especially to the young and young-at-heart – whatever their age,” added Mr Lee.

The three concept cars – SOUL Burner, SOUL Diva and SOUL Searcher – were created by Kia´s European design team led by Gregory Guillaume, under the guidance of Kia´s Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

They were developed from the original SOUL concept car designed jointly by Kia´s California and Korea design studios and unveiled in 2006 at Detroit.

Speaking about the choice of name for the original 2006 Detroit concept car, Tom Kearns, chief designer of Kia Motors America commented, “We wanted to inject some life into this car´s design, to give it a soul. And the word ´Soul´ is a homophone for the home city of Kia Motors headquarters, in Korea, so it is a fun play on words.”library-142-schreyer.jpgKia´s Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer (left), strongly endorsed that name choice at the Geneva Show earlier this year, commenting,“The name SOUL accurately reflects how people will be able to ´express their spirit – their psyche´ with this new product.

Through a variety of options, accessories and colours, they will be able to personalise their Kia Soul and create a sense of individuality, making their new car a true reflection of their personality.”Looking ahead to the 2008 Paris Motor Show, Gregory Guillaume observed, “Because the new Kia Soul is not a replacement for an existing vehicle and is destined to play a unique role within the Kia global line-up, it can be a bit of a rebel!

The trio of Geneva concepts were ´appetisers´ for the new model introduction at Paris, and you can be certain that the new Kia Soul model will retain the core DNA of the three exciting concepts.”The all-new Kia Soul defies classification, and its design will encourage customers to build an emotional bond with this rebellious new car.To be made in Korea from September 2008, Kia Soul will provide a creative platform for buyers to individualise and match their car to their own personality.

-DAVID TWOMEY






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