Kia Hamsters return to promote facelifted Soul (+video)

August 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has brought back its body bopping hamsters to push its cosmetically refreshed and mechanically upgraded 2012 Kia Soul which goes on sale in the States this month.

This time around the hip hop inspired hamsters find themselves in a dark, futuristic videogame world where the rodents turn the battle between alien robots and humanoids into a dancing frenzy. The soundtrack is provided by electro-pop group LMFAO’s hit, “Party Rock Anthem”.

“The success and popularity of the Soul continues to grow and attract new customers to the Kia brand, and with music playing an important role in our marketing efforts it is the perfect time for the hamsters to return for a third installment featuring the infectious sounds of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ to highlight the 2012 Soul’s new attributes,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA. Continue reading “Kia Hamsters return to promote facelifted Soul (+video)” »

Official 2010 Kia Soul hamster commercial

May 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The official 2010 Kia Soul hamster commercial with music by Goldfish! The Soul. A new way to roll.

Kia Soul with Hamster Commercial

December 22nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The official 2010 Kia Soul hamster commercial with music by Marz featuring Pack & Mumiez! The Soul. A new way to roll.


Kia Soul gains momentum in NZ

December 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s new crossover the Soul is already recording strong sales, just a few weeks after making its debut in major markets.

The quirky five-door Kia Soul is doing well in Europe and the US as the Korean manufacturer is working hard to keep up with demand.

Company officials in the North American markets are already working on plans to increase their orders by 20%, after sales of the Soul in the first two months following its launch beat predictions. Kia had planned on selling 40,000 Souls in the US and Canada in its first full year but are now looking at adding another 10,000 to that total.

And in Europe sales of the Kia Soul are around 13% higher than predicted in its first two months, in spite of the recession that has seen car sales in general slump by more than 35%.

Here in New Zealand consumer interest in the Kia brand is increasing, with dealers reporting that the launch of the Soul in April is driving significantly increased numbers of people into showrooms to see the highly styled model, even though the car industry locally reported its worst sales month in 34 years.

“All car brands suffered in April in New Zealand, including Kia, but we are fortunate that we have two exciting new models in the Soul and Cerato that are boosting enquiries with our dealers and although it is taking longer for deals to be closed we are confident of turning the increased interest into sales,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand Ltd. “People are now talking about Kia in terms of ‘freshness’ and being a ‘design-led brand’, which is creating a real buzz that can only be good for us in the long term.”

Mr McDonald says that now Easter, the school holidays and the disruption of having two new models launching very close together are behind them, Kia dealers are back in the groove and May sales are already looking significantly better than April.

Kia grabs bigger share of NZ market

July 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Soul

Kia is continuing to increase its share of the new passenger car market in New Zealand, grabbing almost 5% of the market during June the best result ever for the Korean manufacturer.

Last month Kia saw an 18% rise in sales over April, with the 207 new car registrations making it the second best sales month for Kia this year.

Kia’s sales are continuing to rise at a faster pace than most other manufacturers, leading to a greater share of the market, reaching 4.9% in June. Kia is close to breaking 4% for the year to date, up from just below 3% at the beginning of 2009.

Surprisingly, it was one of Kia’s older models that provided the shot in the arm — the Rio 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan grabbed more than a third of all Kia sales last month. Other strong sellers were the all-new Cerato 2-litre sedan, all-wheel-drive Sportage and the 4WD Sorento.

Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand, says the sales performance through 2009 is based on the strong line-up of fuel efficient cars and SUVs that are perfectly in tune with the times, backed by a motivated and resourceful dealer network. “Kia Motors has been able to read the trends and develop vehicles that have great appeal to consumers in these tough times,” he adds. “With our new models Kia is proving that you don’t have to sacrifice anything in terms of luxuries, style and performance to own a car that delivers lower running costs and more consumer protection with our 5-year/100,000 kilometre factory warranty programme.”

Kia Motors is at the beginning of a complete overhaul of its entire model range, which started with the introduction of the Soul compact crossover and Cerato sedan in April. Three other new or updated Kia models are due to go on sale in New Zealand by the end of the year.

Kia bucks trend and records sales increase

June 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s new-look model range is catching on with buyers around the world, with sales increasing in a number of markets.

Against the general trend, Kia Motors has recorded an 11.5% increase in international sales in May and for the year to date its sales are now up by 0.5%. Almost every other car maker is continuing to lose sales as economic woes persist.

The success comes on the back of the introduction of new designs, led by the Kia Soul cross-over and Kia Cerato sedan. The new Cerato is only just going on sale now in the world’s largest market, the US.

By region, Kia posted a year-on-year sales increase of 51.3% in China, 44% increase in Korea and a 13% increase in general markets during May. Year-to-date Kia is already ahead of 2008 with 590,934 sales international, led by general markets (up 17%) and the Korean home market (up 14.2%).

Sales of the new Cerato have only just started in most countries, but it is already Kia’s best-selling model for 2009 with 95,883 units, followed by the B-segment Rio. And while 4×4 sales have dropped significantly for other manufacturers, Kia’s recreational vehicles, which include the Sportage and Sorento, achieved an increase of 24.6% during May.

Here in NZ, the new Soul and Cerato are also just starting to make their presence felt, helping Kia to achieve a market share in excess of 4% in May, it’s best result ever. The Kia Carnival also continues to be the best-selling MPV in New Zealand.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the new designs created by chief designer Peter Screyer are definitely paying off, with more buyers now expressing interest in purchasing a Kia.

“We are seeing more people coming into Kia showrooms to see our new models and it is only going to get better from here as Kia continues to introduce a wave of new cars in the coming months,” he says.

Meanwhile, the growing strength of Kia has seen a number of Saab dealers in Sweden approach the Korean company to add the brand to their showrooms. Three Swedish Saab dealers have already signed up and a number of others are expected to follow.

And in the UK, Kia dealers have been surprised by the type of cars that British motorists are wishing to trade on brand new Kias under the Government’s Cash For Clunkers scheme. They report that some Mercedes, Porsche and Jaguar owners have been scrapping their older motors in favour of the Kia Picanto mini car, with their old cars being crushed.

Collectively, British Kia dealers have traded two Porsches, five Jaguars, 53 Mercedes and 30 BMWs since the Government began its scrappage scheme in May. Under the scheme owners get £2,000 (NZ$5200) for their old cars, with 75% of motorists opting for the Picanto, which cost them just £4,195 (NZ$10,900) including the grant.

One Kia dealer refused to accept a classic Singer under the scheme because he didn’t want to see it destroyed, but he helped the lady owner sell it so she could buy a new Picanto.

We recently road tested the new Kia Soul. Click here to check out the review.

Kia bucks trend and records sales increase

June 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s new-look model range is catching on with buyers around the world, with sales increasing in a number of markets.

Against the general trend, Kia Motors has recorded an 11.5% increase in international sales in May and for the year to date its sales are now up by 0.5%. Almost every other car maker is continuing to lose sales as economic woes persist.

The success comes on the back of the introduction of new designs, led by the Kia Soul cross-over and Kia Cerato sedan. The new Cerato is only just going on sale now in the world’s largest market, the US.

By region, Kia posted a year-on-year sales increase of 51.3% in China, 44% increase in Korea and a 13% increase in general markets during May. Year-to-date Kia is already ahead of 2008 with 590,934 sales international, led by general markets (up 17%) and the Korean home market (up 14.2%).

Sales of the new Cerato have only just started in most countries, but it is already Kia’s best-selling model for 2009 with 95,883 units, followed by the B-segment Rio. And while 4×4 sales have dropped significantly for other manufacturers, Kia’s recreational vehicles, which include the Sportage and Sorento, achieved an increase of 24.6% during May.

Here in NZ, the new Soul and Cerato are also just starting to make their presence felt, helping Kia to achieve a market share in excess of 4% in May, it’s best result ever. The Kia Carnival also continues to be the best-selling MPV in New Zealand.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the new designs created by chief designer Peter Screyer are definitely paying off, with more buyers now expressing interest in purchasing a Kia.

“We are seeing more people coming into Kia showrooms to see our new models and it is only going to get better from here as Kia continues to introduce a wave of new cars in the coming months,” he says.

Meanwhile, the growing strength of Kia has seen a number of Saab dealers in Sweden approach the Korean company to add the brand to their showrooms. Three Swedish Saab dealers have already signed up and a number of others are expected to follow.

And in the UK, Kia dealers have been surprised by the type of cars that British motorists are wishing to trade on brand new Kias under the Government’s Cash For Clunkers scheme. They report that some Mercedes, Porsche and Jaguar owners have been scrapping their older motors in favour of the Kia Picanto mini car, with their old cars being crushed.

Collectively, British Kia dealers have traded two Porsches, five Jaguars, 53 Mercedes and 30 BMWs since the Government began its scrappage scheme in May. Under the scheme owners get £2,000 (NZ$5200) for their old cars, with 75% of motorists opting for the Picanto, which cost them just £4,195 (NZ$10,900) including the grant.

One Kia dealer refused to accept a classic Singer under the scheme because he didn’t want to see it destroyed, but he helped the lady owner sell it so she could buy a new Picanto.

We recently road tested the new Kia Soul. Click here to check out the review.

Kia Soul 2009 Review

June 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Korean manufacturer Kia has built a reputation for making sensibly styled budget cars and for making concessions in quality to maintain an affordable price point. Recently there has been a change in ethos at Kia and its vehicle styling has become far more daring. Kia has become the Skoda of Asia because like Skoda it’s engaged in a heated battle against badge snobbery. Kia’s latest weapon and metal manifestation of its revised thinking is the Kia Soul. So is this unique new ‘urban crossover’ hot property? We spent a week kicking the tyres and lighting the fires to find out.

It’s impossible not to stare when you first lay eyes on the Soul’s extroverted exterior aesthetic. It’s bold and refreshingly risky in how much styling has been retained from it’s original concept car form.  The Soul is covered in distinctive styling cues and marks a significant departure from Kia styling of old. A wrap-around glasshouse and a rear pillar that pushes from back to front recreates a motorcycle helmet look desired by the designers. A new corporate Tiger grille sits up front and is set to be a feature of other Kia vehicles in the future.  The radical style is finished off by high vertical taillights and on the Soul Burner 18-inch alloy wheels. If you still think the Soul is too plain, many customisation options are available including roof rails, interior trim options, body kits and various decals to make it all your own. Overall the styling is polarizing and although it’s targeted at a youngish market you get the feeling it may equally appeal to female baby boomers.

Jump inside the Soul Burner and you’re greeted with a scorching red and black interior.  Once adjusted to the dominating colour scheme the Soul’s controls are sensible and well laid out with stereo controls repeated on the steering wheel. The three-dial instrument cluster is basic but easy to read and strongly illuminated at night. There is an interesting array of interior equipment that ranges from gimmicky like the stereo speaker mood lighting system that pulses to the stereo’s bass beat, through to highly useful like the reversing camera that screens within the rear-view mirror. The stereo itself is an excellent unit with an additional centre speaker and sub-woofer in the Burner model, but what’s most impressive is the full integration when connecting an iPod using a seamless interface.

The front seats are wide, comfortable and offer three-way adjustment for the driver along with a fold-down armrest. The steering wheel only has tilt adjustment, which results in a driving position that is quite upright but makes the most of the Soul’s excellent forward visibility.

Unfortunately wide rear pillars and a small rear windscreen compromise rear visibility, but that’s the price of the unique exterior styling. Cabin space is excellent and the Soul mixes a reasonably low seat-line (good for getting in and out) with a high roof that makes for generous headroom. Luggage space is ample in standard configuration at 340 litres drop down the 60:40 split back seat and it grows to a cavernous 671 litres.

Packed in under the Soul’s short bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine developing 94kW of power and 260Nm of torque. It’s no fire-breathing monster but is capable of sprightly acceleration and motorway cruises comfortably. The diesel unit is impressively economical and can achieve a frugal 5.9l/100km combined. It’s matched up to a four-speed automatic transmission, which is one gear shy of many new-car autos. To make up for this shortcoming it’s quite a smart auto box that holds lower gears well when accelerating and high gears when braking. It also offers fairly smooth changes and combined with the torquey diesel motor it’s very functional.

Get out of the city to steam along some windy roads and it quickly becomes obvious that steering and suspension aren’t the Soul’s strong points. For all its SUV styling the Soul is a conventional front-wheel-drive vehicle quite capable of torque steering particularly in the wet. That said, the overall handling and general grip in the Soul is passable but the suspension is set quite firmly which does result in a fairly harsh ride. The Soul at times jumped and skipped over bumps during cornering which was an issue probably compounded by the 18-inch wheels. Likewise general ride quality is affected by intrusive tyre noise on rougher road surfaces. However, little wind or engine noise makes it into the cabin.

The electronically assisted steering is responsive and light making the Soul easy to spin around at low speeds but there is a distinct lack of any real feedback. This makes for a one-sided driving experience and is a telling example that driving dynamics were not the main focus for Kia in the Soul’s creation.

In terms of safety the Soul is well endowed with dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags and ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. An Electronic Stability Program is standard on all models and the Soul boasts a five-star NCAP safety rating.

The bottom line is that it’s hard to be scolding of the Soul because it’s a very capable city car that has generous interior space, some cool tricks, is easy to drive and has a modern diesel motor that offers solid power and even better fuel economy. However, the below average ride and steering quickly extinguishes any ideas that the Soul is a true drivers’ car and with Kia’s new styling language comes a new price point that may deter purchasers on a budget.

Will the Kia sell its soul? It will, but not to buyers looking for either a sporting drive or an entry-level bargain. It will sell to those that are hot for its quirky concept car looks and appreciate the accompanying practicality.

Click through to the next page for a full list of specifications.

Price: from $29,990, tested model (Soul Burner) $36,990

What we like:

  • Distinctive exterior and interior styling
  • Spacious cabin
  • Customisation options
  • Useful diesel motor

What we don’t like:

  • Ride quality
  • Vague power-steering
  • Compromised rear visibility

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Kia Soul (2009) – Specifications

MECHANICAL
Engine type 1.6 DOHC CRDI Turbo Diesel
Displacement (cc) 1582 cc
Compression ratio 17.3
Max. power 94 kW @ 4000 rpm
Max. torque 260 Nm @ 1900 rpm
Fuel economy (combined cycle) 5.9L / 100 km
Co2 emissions (g/km) 156
Diesel Particulate Filter

TRANSMISSION
Gear box 4 speed Automatic

SUSPENSION
Front suspension McPherson Strut
Rear suspension CTBA (Coupled Torsion Beam Axle)

WHEELS
Tyres 225/45/R18
Braking system Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
Wheels 18″ Alloy
Space saver spare wheel and tyre

STEERING
Steering system MDPS power assisted rack & pinion
Minimum turning radius kerb to kerb (m)     5.25

DIMENSIONS
Overall length 4105 mm
Overall width 1785 mm
Overall height 1610 mm
Wheelbase 2550 mm
Kerb weight min. / max 1210 kg / 1289 kg
Luggage capacity (seats up / seats down) 340 / 671 litres
Fuel tank capacity 48 litres
Towing capacity – unbraked (kg) 550
Towing capacity – braked (kg) 1100

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