Kia reveals all-new Soul for 2014
- Smooth new look inspired by 2012 Kia Track'ster concept
- All-new platform, stiffer bodyshell and upgraded suspension
- Improved driving dynamics and ride comfort
- Significantly quieter cabin, with higher quality materials throughout
- Increased interior space and range of premium features
- Extensive range of customisation options available in 2014
The all-new 2014 Kia Soul urban crossover, making its European debut at the 65th Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) in Frankfurt, will go on sale in Europe next year. The smooth new-look exterior is inspired by the 2012 Kia Track'ster concept and introduces a thoroughly fresh, more grown-up appearance without losing its individualistic edge.
Although the new Soul is ‘all-new' - none of the exterior body panels are carried over, and the interior is a new design - the 2014 Soul's upright stance, squared shoulders, wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and confidence-inspiring ride height are all hallmark design elements which will ensure the new model is instantly recognisable as a Soul.
"The Soul has attracted a loyal following among Kia buyers, so it was important that the all-new model remained true to the original iconic design. Beyond design, our main focus was infusing it with improved driving dynamics, developing a higher-quality cabin and adding desirable features that improve the Soul's appeal, value and sophistication," commented Benny Oeyen, Vice President Marketing and Product Planning, Kia Motors Europe.
"Keeping what made the current Soul special while addressing areas for improvement presented Kia's American design studio in California and engineers in Korea with a tough challenge. Many of the Track'ster's dramatic design elements - first seen in 2012 - can now be found in the new Soul. Kia has maintained the iconic design while adding modern styling cues to make the 2014 Soul even more desirable," added Oeyen.
Exterior similarities between the new Soul and Track'ster concept are clear. The large trapezoidal lower front air intake is carried over from the concept, and the fog lights - located low down and pushed to the outer edges - mirror those found on the concept. Kia's signature grille is present, though reworked to more closely resemble the concept and bring it in line with other models in the product line-up.
Chassis and powertrain
The biggest technical change for the new 2014 Soul is the adoption of an all-new platform, based on that of the latest Kia cee'd.
The re-engineered bodyshell is now made of 66 per cent ultra-high strength or high strength steel, with stronger connections along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars and between the C-pillars. The result is a 29 per cent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the outgoing model. Thanks to the use of ultra-high strength steel, the A-pillars are 20 mm narrower, improving forward visibility.
The MacPherson strut front suspension is now mounted on a subframe with four bushings (none are used on the first-generation Soul) to better isolate the cabin from vibrations and minimise ride harshness. The steering box has been moved forward, improving steering response and reducing impacts felt through the wheel. At the rear, the shock absorbers are longer and are mounted vertically, delivering greater suspension travel and smoother operation to improve ride comfort.
The stronger bodyshell, together with suspension upgrades, has enabled Kia engineers to create a car with significantly improved driving dynamics, ride quality and greater refinement.
Buyers will be able to choose between the latest versions of Kia's 1.6-litre GDi gasoline and CRDi diesel engines, as well as six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions.
The 2014 Kia Soul has subtly larger dimensions. The overall length is increased by 20 mm (to 4,140 mm) and the wheelbase has been extended by 20 mm (to 2,570 mm). The new model is also 15 mm wider (to 1,800 mm), though the Soul's height remains unchanged (at 1,610 mm). The new dimensions also allowed improvements to the vehicle's practicality. The tailgate opening is now 60 mm wider, providing easier access to a larger cargo area, which has had its capacity increased by 4 per cent to 354 litres (plus additional underfloor storage) with the rear seats upright.
Driver and passengers in the new Soul will enjoy a significantly quieter cabin, with higher quality materials throughout, and greater sound proofing compared to the outgoing Soul - interior noise levels are reduced by approximately three decibels.
The cabin is also larger, with increased front leg room (by 20 mm), headroom (by 5 mm) and shoulder room (up 7.5 mm). Rear legroom is also increased (by 5 mm). Allowing even easier entry and egress, the new Soul's step-in height has been reduced (by 5 mm), while seat hip points are lower (by 12 mm), front and rear.
New Soul will be available, depending on final market specifications, with a choice between single- and two-tone interiors, with black, brown and grey leather and fabrics available. Blue, red and orange high-gloss interior highlights are also available with a new range of interior packages.
Specification and premium features
Promising a more rewarding ownership experience, the 2014 Soul will be available in Europe with a range of new premium features (depending on model), including: front LED lights and rear LED ‘halo' lights; xenon headlights; keyless entry and push-button engine start; automatic climate control air-conditioning; cruise control; leather seat trim; ventilated front seats; heated front and rear seats; panoramic glass sunroof; and heated exterior mirrors. An optional Infinity sound system - tuned specifically for the new Soul - will also be available.
The new Kia Soul will be equipped, subject to final individual market specifications, with a number of safety and convenience features to further give the new vehicle a ‘big car' feel. These features include: High Beam Assist - a first for Kia in Europe - Parallel Parking Assist System and a Lane Departure Warning System.
The new Soul will also carry over the outgoing model's reputation for customization. When the car goes on sale in 2014, buyers will be able to choose between up to 11 exterior paint finishes, as well as three different roof colours - black, white and red. Eight different alloy wheel designs - ranging from 16-inch to 18-inch in size - will be available, including four new designs with coloured inserts to contrast - or match - the body colour.
The two Kia Souls displayed on the Kia stand at IAA Frankfurt are fitted with a new SUV Styling Pack, featuring piano black bumper garnish, side skirts, wheel arches and black painted roof. The new range of Soul accessory kits, available later in 2014, are designed to enable owners to fully enjoy and exploit the versatility of this unique compact SUV.
The all-new 2014 Kia Soul will go on sale across Europe next year when the full model line-up, choice of gasoline and diesel powertrains, performance, economy, equipment specifications and prices will be confirmed.