With strong visual links to the Kia Track’ster concept unveiled at last year’s Chicago show, the all-new Kia Soul was penned in California with, according to chief designer Tom Kearns, “guidance from Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt and assistance from our studio in Korea”.
Built on a fresh platform, the new Kia Soul is longer and wider, yet no taller than its predecessor, while the wheelbase extends by 20mm.
Kearns says the large trapazoidal air intake was “nearly a direct carryover of the concept”, likewise the fog lights “down low and pushed to the edge”.
The Soul will be available with 1.6- and 2.0-litre direct-injected petrol engines in the US, while a 1.7-litre turbo-diesel is expected for European and Australian markets. Kia has ruled out offering a turbo petrol engine in the Soul.
The 1.6-litre produces 97kW of power at 6300rpm, and 160Nm of torque at 4850rpm, while the 2.0-litre makes 122kW at 6200rpm and 205Nm at 4000rpm.
Both units are down slightly compared with their calibration in the Kia Rio (1.6) and Hyundai i40 (2.0) but Kia claims both engines “have been tuned to provide more low-end torque”. Compared with the outgoing 1.6- and 2.0-litre Soul, at 1500rpm the revised engines make five per cent and nine per cent more torque respectively.
Each engine is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
A strut-front, torsion beam rear suspension design is maintained, however the front subframe now uses four bushes (previously the Soul had none), the steering rack has been strengthened, and the front stabiliser bar moved forward. Vertical dampers (the previous units were slanted) according to Kia “allows for more suspension travel, improving ride comfort”.
Behind the body panels, extra expansion foam replaces block-foam for sound deadening, while a “reinforced isolation pad” contributes to a claimed three decibel reduction in cabin noise.
Inside, Kia claims the design team “paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the interior” with “liberal applications of soft touch materials” on the centre console, instrument panel and door trims.
A circular interior theme was carried over from the Track’ster concept, with the instrument cluster, grouping of the steering wheel-mounted controls, and window and door lock switches all incorporating circles.
Rear legrooom and front headroom increases by 5.1mm and front shoulder room is up 7.6mm. The width of the boot opening is improved by 61mm, while body rigidity improves by a claimed 28.7 per cent.
A new second-generation telematics system debuts within the eight-inch touchscreen, and supplementing 4.1-inch binnacle colour screen. It incorporates Sirius digital radio (unavailable in Australia) and app-based functionality.
Options available in the US include satellite navigation, panoramic sunroof, leather trim, seat heaters for all outboard positions, ventilated driver’s seat with 10-way electric adjustment, HID headlights, and a FlexSteer steering system which alters weighting between three modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport.
It is unclear which features will be available in the Australian model lineup, but Kia says when the all-new Soul arrives in the first half of next year, it will likely continue with petrol and diesel options for around the same price as the outgoing model.
Click on the Photos tab for more images.