Kia's latest box on wheels has been revealed in Los Angeles. Whether it'll come to Australia remains to be seen.
Kia has bared its third-generation Soul, with a more aggressive new face, a higher-tech interior and the introduction of an electric model packing a 64kWh battery.
On the outside, the new Soul is 4196mm long, 1800mm wide and 1600mm tall. Those dimensions largely mirror those of its predecessor, with an extra 259mm between the wheels helping deliver a more planted look.
The boxy Kia crossover has always been a unique looker, and the latest one is no exception, with a design that's sure to polarise. It runs with a slim headlight design up front, sitting above a gaping air intake down low, while blacked-out windscreen pillars help maintain the helmet-style window graphic for which the Soul has become known.
Down back, the vertical rear windscreen sits surrounded by a new take on the vertical taillights offered on the previous Soul. It's certainly distinctive, especially combined with a floating body panel dubbed the "island" by Kia.
Three exterior looks will be offered: X-Line, GT-Line and EX Designer Collection. As you might imagine, the GT-Line (pictured in red) runs with a sporty body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels and, when the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine is specced, a chrome central exhaust, along with bigger disc brakes and a sportier suspension tune.
The X-Line takes on a pseudo off-roader look with extra body cladding and roof rails, along with the option of two-tone paint. It rides on unique 18-inch alloy wheels, and gets fog lights as standard. Finally, the EX Designer Collection keeps things simple with LED lighting all around, a two-tone roof treatment and black-spoked alloy wheels.
Power will come from a choice of two petrol engines in the USA, or a pure-electric powertrain shared with the Hyundai Kona Electric. The base engine is a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit making 109kW and 179Nm, mated to a six-speed manual or CVT transmission.
Kia is also offering the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder we get in the Hyundai i30 SR, making 150kW and 264Nm. It's hooked up exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is the Soul EV powertrain. With a 64kWh battery pack and an electric motor making 150kW/400Nm, it represents a meaningful step forward from the outgoing EV.
There's no range claim just yet but, given they share a powertrain, we'd be surprised if it deviates far from the Hyundai Kona Electric's claimed 470km figure.
The Kona hits 100km/h in 7.4 seconds, and tops out at 167km/h. Use those figures as a guide for what the Soul will likely be able to do.
On the styling front, the EV dumps the internal-combustion car's gaping air intakes for a more streamlined snout, and rides on aero-style wheels. It'll be offered in two trims: EV and EV Designer Collection.
The latter boasts two-tone paint, power-folding mirrors, a 10-speaker stereo system, wireless phone charging, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and an auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror.
Electric or otherwise, the entire Soul range is well equipped. Forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and auto high-beam will all be offered, although a detailed trim-grade breakdown hasn't been revealed yet.
Inside, a 10.25-inch central touchscreen will be offered, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An 8.0-inch head-up display is also available, while Kia is highlighting the 11-mode mood lighting system that can be used to make the cabin feel like an expensive nightclub booth.
A big seller in the USA, the Soul has never really connected with buyers Down Under. With that in mind, it's "under consideration" for our market at the moment – we'd suggest the hangman is currently tightening his noose, though.
It's possible the Soul EV could be one of the two all-electric vehicles promised for our market by 2021.
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