Soul is a word that even dictionaries find hard to describe, but anyone who's 'got soul' knows what it means. Likewise, the new Kia Soul - the latest small car from Kia - is hard to categorise, for it fits into none of the motor industry's neat pigeon holes. But one look at it and anyone who's 'got soul' will understand. The Kia Soul hits showrooms from 1st March 2009.
The Kia Soul is an urban crossover - small enough to be ideally suited to the world's urban jungles, but totally different to conventional, workaday small cars. By combining the charm and desirability of MINI and Fiat 500, with a hint of SUV ruggedness, Kia is opening up an entirely new market sub-segment with a car that will win the hearts - and souls - of the young and the young-at-heart.
Like conventional superminis, Soul has five doors, five seats and front-wheel drive; is just over four metres long and is a hatchback. But even within those parameters, the Kia Soul is a car that defies conventions.
The Kia Soul's style is 'tough not rough'. It has a high bonnet with rounded forms, bulging wheel arches and a wide track. The wheel arches are joined by a body side crease, while the roofline appears to slope gently down to the tailgate. The beltline, which rises from the front wheel arch to create a gentle wedge shape, is continued under and around the third side window. A decorative air vent in each front wing incorporates sleek side repeaters and abutts the beltline to intensify an image of quality.
The rear is dominated by vertical combination lamps set into a body colour panel and featuring clear outer lenses. One of the early 'concept' sketches which helped to define what the Kia Soul was all about featured a wild boar. With its strong, wide shoulders, a determined look in its eyes and distinctive sloping back, this animal has one extra, and unusual, attribute - a practical backpack.
The rectangular tailgate reflects that backpack 'profile', a design element which has remained since those early inspirational designs which included the 'wild boar' - it underlines practicality and reflects the urban nature of Soul. It was best seen on the Kia Soul concept car at Detroit where the tailgate opened a number of different ways providing flexibility of use.
On the rear, the Kia badge doubles as the tailgate handle to add a touch of fun. The body side and wheel arch crease line extends around to the bumpers, which are broken by rugged SUV-style panels, in a contrasting colour to the rest of the bodywork.Published 25 February 2009