Speaking to CarAdvice at an event prior to the 2014 Paris motor show, Kia president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer suggested that the boxy Soul has potential to be turned into something more desirable to potential baby SUV buyers.
“Sure we could. I think that the B-class SUV is something that is very important segment, and an important type of car coming up. This is something I think we need to work on. We need to do something,” Schreyer said.
“I personally think it should be a bit more lifestyle than practical.”
That could mean a fettled version of one of the more practical crossovers on the market, the Kia Soul, which has struggled to find much of a foothold in Australia with the type of buyers that Kia wants it to. Instead of appealing to young families and hip buyers, it’s had more success with those in the market for hip replacements.
Schreyer said the idea of a Soul-based SUV to appeal to a different type of buyer could work.
“I think if we try to make an SUV out of the Soul, you know, lift it a bit, it would be a pretty cool car,” he said. “I actually drove one the last three days or so, and I was quite happy with it, because it stands out quite a bit. And the interior is fantastic, it’s really good.”
Schreyer confirmed there are plans for something to fill the gap in the brand’s range below the Sportage.
“We are thinking about a lot of possibilities at the moment, and [the Soul-based model] that could be one,” he said, before indicating that the underpinnings of the car could be used but a new top hat (or body) may be adopted.
“I think smaller – not necessarily in footprint – but maybe smaller in height.”
When asked if a smaller body on the Soul’s underpinnings would compromise the usefulness of a potential production model, Schreyer suggested that buyers in that market aren’t as concerned with outright practicality as they are with overt styling.
“I think with many cars, customers don’t look at the practicalities. They want a cool car.
“If you look at the success of the Mercedes A-Class – you can hardly get in the rear – but it’s very successful. [Mercedes] didn’t care, and they thought right.”
Another Kia source indicated that a production version of the Track'ster - a sporty two-door concept based on the previous Soul - may fill the brief of offering something different to the regular model that offers a different level of appeal.