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Kia outs mild Soul facelift

Soul searching: Kia has not officially revealed the Soul facelift but a quick search of the internet offers a first look of the car online in South Korea.

Mid-life Kia Soul refresh quietly surfaces ahead of Australian arrival late 2016

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Kia logo23 Aug 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

KIA has revealed a subtle aesthetic update for its cheeky Soul crossover on its South Korean website that brings a revised grille, headlights, tail-lights and a choice of new alloy wheel designs, with the new look expected Down Under towards the end of the year.

The mid-life update has not been made official in any other global regions with the images unceremoniously appearing online and the South Korean car-maker is yet to announce where the new-look Soul will be rolled out next.

For the update, the Soul’s sheet metal appears to be unchanged but a number of component upgrades have brought a fresh look to the Soul, including sharp new headlights that have an HID or LED dipped beam, complemented by LED daytime running lights.

The redesigned lights are framed in a new grille that has a bolder mesh, more pronounced foglights and a sportier aluminium-look skid-plate and red flash, although the latter two features may be variant specific.

Its facelift is capped off by a modified version of the company’s trademark tiger nose grille that highlights the leading edge of the bonnet with a fatter chrome-effect band.

At the back end the Soul wears a restyled tail-light design, while a pair of new more slender-spoked alloy wheel designs give the profile view an updated look.

Interiors also appear to have been included in the makeover, with a range of new colours and some updated design throughout the spacious cabin. Improvements to the information systems are also likely, including the central full-colour screen.

Kia’s small crossover receives mixed attention worldwide with the North Americans flocking to the Soul in droves as the number one-selling model for the Korean car-maker, but Australians barely give it the time of day.

Despite moving just 52 example to the end of July, Kia Motors Corporation Australia (KMAu) media and corporate communications general manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto the model would continue to be a part of the local line-up, but the company was working on finding it a new audience.

“Global pressure means that it is not going anywhere because it is such a popular model in America, but we have to find a way to improve the sales in Australia as it stands,” he said.

“There is no suggestion at the the moment that it’s going anywhere at all, what we have to do is find a way to find a niche for it or a more acceptable position for it.”

In the United States, the Soul is marketed to a broad catchment with a number of variants ranging from sporty to more practical offerings, including an EV, but Mr Hepworth explained that a different approach was required to invigorate local sales.

One such avenue could be the more elderly end of the spectrum, said Mr Hepworth, but not much exploration had yet been made into the potential area.

“It’s a program of getting people to understand it, for example, as a seniors car. The hip point is perfect, it’s a small car with interior space and it gives you all the benefits of a mini-sized vehicle, but it has the interior space, the seating position and the high ride that people like about a mini SUV. There’s got to be something there for us.”

While the US market targets a younger buyer, Mr Hepworth said a similar strategy would not work here until sales had grown sufficiently to support a broader range of Soul variants.

“There are more sporting options of it around the world but you can’t have three versions and sell 10 a month, so you have to simplify the line-up to what you think is the primary area and like a delicate flower you have to nurture it and get it stronger before you do anything with it.”

Little technical detail is revealed on the Korean website, but full local specifications and pricing will follow closer to the Australian launch.

The second-generation Soul was introduced in 2014 offering manual and automatic versions of the Si, but the manual has since been dropped, leaving a single auto variant priced from $26,990 before on-road costs.

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