The new Kia Soul has arrived in New Zealand and was turning heads at it’s launch in Auckland’s viaduct yesterday.
Described by Kia Motors’ design chief Peter Schreyer as a “new kind of urban crossover”, the Soul is a modern styled five-seat, five-door car that marks a new design-led direction for the Korean auto company.
“Soul is very much a ‘watershed’ vehicle for Kia Motors, both in a local, as well as global sense,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand Ltd. “It’s the first of a new generation of vehicles that clearly identifies the route that Kia Motors will be taking in the future, as a creator of distinctive cars that consumers aspire to own. Kia is re-inventing itself as a fun, youthful and bold brand that doesn’t intend to be bound by the rulebook. Soul is very much an embodiment of that new thinking. It’s different — a breakthrough design – and we believe it is going to inject some real pizzazz into the marketplace at a time when we could really do with some cheering up.”
The new Kia Soul doesn’t fit into any particular market segment, which is why it has been termed an “urban crossover”. The styling has a hint of SUV but without a four-wheel-drive system there’s a touch of hatchback, and while it’s practical the Soul is not a shopping basket on wheels but is a good size for city duties.
The Soul is being pushed to win over a whole new group of consumers who may not even have considered a Kia before.
“Soul crosses age and social barriers,” adds Mr McDonald. “It’s not unlike the original Mini, bringing a smile to faces just because it doesn’t conform to any particular rule or classification — it’s a car that challenges people to rethink everything they might have known about Kia.”
The Soul has options to personalise individual vehicles. These include interior mood lighting that flashes to the pulse of the multi-media entertainment centre, eye shadows for the front lights, designer body decals and more.
The Kia Soul announced its arrival as a design concept at the Detroit Motor Show of 2006, but few thought the unusual ‘full face helmet’ design would make it into production. It coincided with the arrival at Kia Motors of former Audi/VW design head Peter Schreyer, who took the concept and made it work as practical vehicle..
Last year, Schreyer added a touch of his own design when he added the new corporate Tiger grille to a further development of the concept and the growling face is now one of the defining points of the Soul. Various versions of the Tiger grille will be seen on other Kia models in the future.
What Schreyer and his team have done is to take a five-door hatchback and turn it into a completely new genre. Created on an all-new platform, featuring a compact 4104mm overall length with an unusually long wheelbase of 2550mm, the designers matched that with a high roofline, tapering to the rear. The result is that Soul offers cavernous passenger space that outperforms many vehicles with much larger exterior dimensions and provides the luggage capacity of a small wagon.
There is only one body style, but the Soul will be available in three distinctly different models; the Soul entry level model, priced from $29,990; the mid-range Soul Plus, priced from $33,990 and the eye-catching Soul Burner priced from $39,990.
There are two engine options available, with the entry-level Soul gaining the 1.6-litre Gamma Euro 4, CVVT petrol engine designed for the European Kia cee’d, along with a 5-speed manual transmission as standard. The two other Soul models both feature a second generation CRDi diesel engine, which is matched to a 4-stage intelligent adaptive technology automatic transmission as standard.
The CRDi engine is a product of Kia’s centre in Russelsheim, Germany and has been enhanced for the Soul. This 16-valve DOHC unit is fitted with an electronically actuated variable geometry turbocharger that delivers an 11% increase in power, now up to 94kW @ 4000rpm and a 3% increase in torque, rising to 260Nm between 1900-2700rpm.
The Soul CRDi automatic returns a 5.9L/100km combined fuel economy and low 156g/m CO2 emission levels, thanks in part to the particulate filter, which is standard equipment on the diesel models.
The new Soul doesn’t compromise on safety, either, with electronic stability programme (ESP) to help the driver avoid an accident and a full complement of six airbags (including side curtain and front side airbags) standard on every model. The Soul Burner features a rear-facing camera image displayed in the rear-view mirror when reverse is selected — other models have rear parking assist.
At the heart is the ‘floating ‘centre stack designed around the multi-media entertainment system. All Soul models come with a CD player/radio, with MP3 compatibility, plus USB, AUX and iPOD connections, speed-rated volume control and an innovative Power Base technology that turns the car in a concert hall on wheels. The Soul Burner system has the uprated 315W 8-speaker system incorporating a large diameter dash-top centre speaker, external amplifier and sub-woofer. All models have manual audio controls integrated into the steering wheel.
Kia Motors NZ says the first shipments have already sold out and orders are now starting to be placed on subsequent Soul arrivals. Expect to see more of the new Kia Soul around town shortly.