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Kia marks its Soul

Soulful: SUV styling makes Soul a small-car stand-out.

Kia confirms Soul as the name its SUV-styled small-car will carry into production

27 May 2008

KIA Motors has confirmed that it will retain the name Soul from its concept cars when it starts selling a new SUV-styled small car globally later this year.

The new Korean-built hatchback is expected to come to Australia in about March 2009, priced at about $21,000.

Kia Australia spokesman Jonathan Fletcher said he expected pricing to be in “the low 20s” but that specifications have not yet been finalised, with the engine choice being between 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units.

Having shown a number of concepts since 2005, Kia will reveal the final production Soul at the Paris motor show in early October.

The Kia Soul started as a crossover off-roader with four-wheel drive but has developed into a more conventional small five-door hatch, though still with tall and boxy SUV styling.

Nevertheless, it has stayed true to the profile of the original concept and retained its prominent flared wheel-arches set close to each corner, although the original concept car’s wraparound windscreen and rear-hinged ‘suicide’ rear doors have predictably been left on the cutting room floor.

17 center imageThe first Soul concept was created by Kia’s California and Korea design studios and appeared at the Detroit motor show in January 2006. It was in turn based on the Mesa concept from the same show a year earlier, which was penned at Kia’s European design centre under the guidance of design chief Peter Schreyer.

At this year’s Geneva show, Kia showed three more concepts – called Soul Burner, Soul Searcher and Soul Diva – that were penned by Gregory Guillaume in Europe and are understood to be close to the production version.

Mr Guillaume said the all-new car defies classification and will encourage customers to build an emotional bond with what the company describes as “a rebellious new car”, which will offer a high degree of personalisation through options, colours and accessories when it goes into production in September.

“Because the new Kia Soul is not a replacement for an existing vehicle and is destined to play a unique role within the Kia global line-up, it can be a bit of a rebel,” he said.

“The trio of Geneva concepts were appetisers for the new model introduction at Paris, and you can be certain that the new Kia Soul model will retain the core DNA of the three exciting concepts.” At Geneva Kia did not reveal any mechanical details of its new car that is aimed specifically at boosting European sales to young urban buyers, but it will only have front-wheel drive and will accommodate five people.

The tall stance and wheel-at-each-corner style are said to create generous interior space while the Soul is also believed to incorporate a number of clever packing features designed to appeal to active young urban dwellers.

“Reaction from the media and public to the three Soul concept cars first unveiled at the Geneva Show in March, and shown subsequently at other international events, has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Kia senior executive vice-president Hyoung-Keun Lee.

“This reaction, plus the fact that both physically and emotionally the Soul concept cars are so closely related to the new Kia Soul production car, made it a natural choice to retain this evocative name.” “The Soul concept cars reveal a whole new fun side to Kia. They signal that our new Kia Soul production model is poised to defy conventions and offer buyers a world of possibilities for expressing their personality.

“This new model will reach out to new groups of consumers, appealing especially to the young and young-at-heart – whatever their age.”

Read more:

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