The Kia Soul has ensconced itself within the hearts of senior management as a design icon, and will therefore almost certainly continue into an evolutionary third generation.
Moreover, Kia’s head of vehicle testing and high-performance development – ex-BMW M executive Albert Biermann – wants to make a hotted-up one with go-kart handling.
Remember the 2012 Track’ster concept? Well, it might come to fruition in the fullness of time, called the Soul GT. It would be a rival to the Mini Cooper S family, among a multitude of others, and potentially use bits developed by Hyundai N.
Pictured above and top: 2012 Kia Track'ster concept
While not a big seller in Australia, the current Soul and its predecessor have distinctive boxy design that has seen Kia broaden its appeal in many key markets. It’s also immediately recognisable in the same way a Mini or Beetle is.
With Kia pinning its brand on edgy and youthful looks, the Soul is ideal, somewhere between a small SUV (which Kia is overdue to launch) and a hatchback.
“The Soul is the Soul… it’s one of the icons of Kia,” said the company’s chief design officer Peter Schreyer. “And I think it can continue as a legacy somehow.”
Pictured above: 2017 Kia Stinger
The first generation of the Soul launched in 2008, and the second in 2014. It’s now down to a single variant in Australia priced at $24,990 plus on-road costs, powered by a 113kW/191Nm 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine.
Some markets also get a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol unit, which has clear performance potential. But Biermann wants to go even further with the next iteration due around 2020, he told us this week .
“Maybe a year ago – I like the Soul a lot, for me it’s a fantastic car with strong character that really stands out from everything else – and I was really discussing with my engineers, ‘I want a Soul GT’, and they're all laughing!” he said.
Pictured: 2017 Kia Soul
“They said ‘this is impossible’, [but] I said ‘I want to try, so please prepare the most sporty Soul’, and then I drove it and finally okay, I agreed – on this generation Soul, okay, no GT.
“But maybe in future. It’s not on the list of marketing or something, but I wish, because it’s such a strong character… I would like to have a very wild one that drives like a go-kart.”
Something perhaps like the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept, a 186kW all-wheel-drive concept car with a short-throw manual gearbox that really showed the company’s sporting intent. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, hey?