At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show today, Kia Motors America introduced a better way to roll with the world debut of the KIA Soul, a completely new yet familiar version of Kia’s beloved and award-winning urban runabout. Taking everything that helped popularise the quirky, unconventionally styled Soul, KIA Motors poured more of its soul into nearly every inch of the the vehicle, resulting in a third-generation that continues to transcend unmatched style, peppy performance, thrilling technology and urban practicaility.
Proving the point that “there is a Soul for everyone”, the normally aspirated and optionally turbocharged Soul will be available in six trim levels when it debuts in the U.S.A in 2020, along with a brand-new version of the Soul EV.
Design beyond the box
While the Soul stays true to its design heritage with its boxy silhouette and confident stance, its newly sculpted lines, cutting-edge details and technical lighting elements present the most futuristic, youthful and innovative Soul yet.
New exterior design highlights include a high-tech new front headlight configuration with a connecting trim piece that accentuates the vehicle’s width, slim-design daytime running lights with integrated indicator lights, a larger front grille with a unique two-tone treatment, C-segment pillars designed to resemble airplane wings, and three-dimensional wraparound boomerang-shaped taillights.
Music has been an overarching theme for Soul since its inception, and it’s no different this round. For the third generation, designers and engineers turned up the volume on the interior. Drawing inspiration from the “emotional visualisation of sound”, the Soul’s interior space is adorned with shapes and textures that reflect acoustic inspired elements to create a full sensory experience.
Interior design highlights include sound mood lighting in the door panels (with the ability to synchronise to the beat of the music being played), Soul’s signature tweeter speakers, wireless charging and dual automatic climate control.
Smart packaging and stronger structure
Despite its compact footprint, the Soul’s boxy dimensions continue to offer up a surprising amount of cargo and passenger space. Slightly longer than before, the new Soul also features more smartly designed packaging in an effort to make accessibility even easier. Some highlights include a wider and lower rear tailgate opening to ease loading and unloading of luggage, an easy-grip handle on the tailgate, a dual-level luggage board that offers flexibility in accommodating taller items.
The Soul’s stronger structure benefits from an increased use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), hot-stamped components, and structural adhesive. With stronger bones, the all-new Soul is expected to achieve the highest safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Next-generation infotainment and KIA DriveWise technologies
Recognising that one’s car is an integral part of their social life, the all-new Soul continues to surprise and delight with next-gen infotainment and technology. Features include a 10,25-inch HD colour touchscreen with split-screen function, rear-view camera and parking guidance, as well as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth Multi-Connection, which allows for two Bluetooth devices to be connected at the same time. An 8-inch Head-Up Display is also on offer, as is a 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system (including amplifier, 10 speakers, subwoofer and tuned centre speaker).
Like several other new Kia vehicles, the all-new Soul offers a full suite of Kia DriveWise features including Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA), Lane Keeping Assistant (LKA), Lane Changing Assist (LCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross Collision Warning (RCW), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and High Beam Assist (HBA).
What drives you?
Soul enhances its fun-to-drive personality and versatility with different drivetrain combinations. Taken from the new Forte (Cerato), Kia’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) in now also available in the all-new Soul. Designed and built in-house, the IVT is Kia’s unique version of a continuously variable transmission that provides and engaging driving experience.
The all-new Soul will be offered with a 2.0-litre MPI engine (either with 6-speed manual or IVT), or a 1.6-litre turbo GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine (with 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission). With the Soul’s all-new platform comes a more refined experience behind the wheel and on the road. Engineers designed suspension geometry to help quell noise, vibration and harshness while also improving handling and comfort in a variety of conditions.
The all-new Soul will now also be offered in GT Line trim, which incorporates a sporty new front and rear fascia, 18-inch alloy wheels, unique side sills, fog lamps integrated on the front grille, a leather-wrapped D-shaped steering wheel, larger disc brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and a chrome-tip centre exhaust.
For those who prefer a more rugged look, the Soul X Line gains a body kit with rugged body cladding, overfenders for a chunkier look, and other off-road inspired accents. Unique 18-inch alloy wheels are added, as are fog lamps, optional two-tone paint and roof-rail inspired accents.
The new Soul EV
Built at the Gwangju Plant in Korea, the new Soul EV is expected to go on sale in 2019. The new Kia Soul EV has a new state-of-the-art lithium ion polymer 64 kWh battery which is expected to mean much less need for daily charging, and with Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge as standard equipment, battery refills should be brief so road trip fun can happily continue after only a short break. The new battery is currently being tested to ascertain precise EPA-estimated range. Results are expected in 2019.
The Soul EV has always provided a bit of a magic carpet ride, whisking along silently with seemingly effortless oull. Now, with 201 horsepower and 291 lb.-ft of torque (notably increased from the outgoing model’s 210 lb.-ft), drivers will feel like a virtual Aladdin. Handling and driving dynamics are also much improved, thanks to addition of independent rear suspension. The new Soul EV also provides plenty of tools for drivers to customise their driving experience and their battery usage, including different driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Eco+), Smart Regenrative Braking, and a Smart Eco Pedal Guide display on the instrument cluster.
For the time being, the all-new Soul will only be produced in left-hand-drive configuration, and is therefore not expected to debut in South Africa.