All-new Soul reboots its unique appeal
Kia’s second-generation Soul is an all-new model that introduces a smooth new-look exterior inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept, creating a thoroughly fresh, more grown-up appearance without losing its appealing character and individualistic edge.
Beneath the new panels, there’s an all-new platform (based on Kia’s best-selling Cerato/Forte/cee’d platform) with a significantly stronger bodyshell and upgraded suspension to improve driving dynamics and ride comfort.
The original Soul generated immense loyalty among owners and both existing and new buyers for the latest model will appreciate the latest car’s significantly quieter cabin, higher quality materials, increased space for people and cargo, plus the new range of premium features.
“While Soul has not been a volume model for Kia in Australia, the car has won a loyal following through its individual styling, practical use of space and all-round ease and satisfaction of ownership,” Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer, Tony Barlow, said.
“With the arrival of the all-new model, with its improvements and refinements across the board, I believe the Soul will continue to be a benchmark model for new car buyers shopping with their head as well as their heart.”
The new Soul will build on the achievements of its predecessor which has recorded global sales of more than 760,000 units since its introduction in late 2008.
In Australia, Soul has held a loyal niche market position with 1779 sales since the car was launched in 2009
“The Kia Soul has become one of our brand’s most popular export models, attracting loyal customers from a wide range of backgrounds across many countries – so it was important that the all-new model remained true to the original iconic design,” said Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s Vice-President of Overseas Marketing. “Now, the introduction of the exciting second-generation Soul is a truly significant landmark for Kia.
“The Soul already has great emotional appeal, so our main focus with the 2015 model was infusing it with improved driving dynamics, developing a higher quality cabin and adding desirable features to highlight the new Soul’s fresh sophistication.
“Keeping what made the current Soul special while addressing areas for improvement presented Kia’s designers and engineers with a difficult task, so our people have listened closely to customer feedback. We are confident that the new Soul, with its transformed appearance, broader range of features, improved dynamics and refinement, will attract both existing and new customers to Kia showrooms.”
Second-generation Soul models are manufactured at Kia’s Gwangju facility in Korea.
2. STYLING & DESIGN
New Soul adds modern visual cues to original iconic design
The iconic all-new Soul design is instantly recognizable yet thoroughly fresh, becoming more grown up, without losing its edge and honoring Soul owners’ fierce individualism. The new Soul was created at Kia’s American Design Centre in California, by a design team headed by Tom Kearns, Chief Designer, Kia Motors America and overseen by Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer, Kia Motors Corporation.
Keeping what made the original Soul special, while addressing areas for improvement was a tough challenge. As the design team at Kia’s California studio began putting pen to paper – maintaining the iconic design while adding modern cues – Kia engineers in the USA and Korea focused on making the Soul even more fun to drive.
“The all-new Soul was one of the more difficult assignments we’ve taken on,” said Kearns. “Striking the right balance between the wonderful design of the original car with the audacious proportions and stance of the Track’ster concept was daunting.
“It proved to be a truly collaborative effort with guidance from Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt and assistance from our studio in Korea. In the end, we’ve kept the essence of Soul while infusing it with more presence inside and out.”
Exterior similarities between Track’ster and new Soul are easy to spot. The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover from the concept, and the location of the available fog lights – down low and pushed to the leading edges – mirror those found on the Track’ster.
Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille is present, but it’s been reworked to more closely resemble the concept. Adding a touch of flare, the unique ‘floating’ body-color panel inset into the tailgate also originated with the concept.
Although the new Soul is ‘all-new’ – none of the exterior body panels are carried over, and the interior is a new design – the Soul’s upright stance, squared shoulders, wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and confidence-inspiring ride height are all hallmark design elements.
The new Kia Soul has subtly larger dimensions. Compared with its predecessor, the new model is 20 mm longer (4140 mm), 15 mm wider (1800 mm), but drops 41mm (down to 1619mm) with the standard roof rails.
The new dimensions and the extended wheelbase (also up by 20 mm to 2570 mm) have allowed improvements to the vehicle’s practicality, with more space for people and cargo, plus the tailgate opening is now 62 mm wider (1005mm), providing easier access to the cargo bay.
Smoother exterior panels and careful attention to surface detailing have cut the Kia Soul’s aerodynamic drag to Cd 0.34 (down from 0.35), despite the new model’s wider stance – improving fuel economy at higher speeds.
The new Soul will come with standard 17-inch alloy wheels with a five double-spoke design and space-saver spare.
For Australia the new Soul will come in a choice of six exterior colours _ Clear White and five premium colours, Cherry Black, Bright Silver, Titanium Silver, Inferno Red and Acid Green. There will be a single interior colour, a one-tone black.
3. COMFORT & CONVENIENCE
More style and more features make Soul’s cabin a delight
The interior design team for new Soul paid particular attention to creating a more premium look and feel for the new model’s cabin. Using the original Soul interior as a starting point, Kia’s designers played up the circular theme found inside Track’ster.
“With the previous Soul, we kind of dipped our toe in the water when it came to incorporating the circular patterns. But for the all-new Soul, we really wanted to echo as many of the Track’ster’s circular interior reference points as possible,” commented Kearns.
The instrument cluster features deeply recessed circular gauges. Along the door panels, sculpted circles incorporate the power windows and door locks. The centre console features a circular gear shift surround which is also a direct carryover from Track’ster.
The front door-mounted speakers mirror the circular, high-mounted ‘floating’ tweeters and the steering wheel-mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groupings along the horizontal spokes with the buttons for the audio system and cruise control falling readily to the thumbs, enabling the driver’s hands to remain on the wheel at all times.
“If you think about droplets falling into a still pond, you begin to visualize the inspiration for the all-new Soul’s interior. The cabin design is organic, like the human body, and we feel it makes the interior that much more appealing to the driver and passengers,” concluded Kearns.
Higher quality materials are used throughout the cabin, with new soft-touch materials on the instrument panel, centre console and door panels.
The cabin is also larger, with increased headroom (by 6 mm) and shoulder room (up 7 mm). The already generous rear legroom is also increased by 4 mm. The new Soul’s step-in height has been reduced (by 5 mm in front and 7 mm at the rear), while seat hip points are lower (by 12 mm in front and 18 mm at the rear) – allowing even easier entry and egress.
Inside, the standard front seats have larger bolsters on the cushion and backrest – offering greater support during cornering. The new design of steering wheel continues to offer tilt and telescopic adjustment over a 40 mm range, so that drivers can find the ideal position for their individual stature.
For Australia, new Soul will come as a single Si trim level powered by a 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine coupled to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
Standard equipment will include ESC with ABS and BAS, Hill Start Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, MDPS steering with FlexSteer, six airbags (front, side and curtain), cruise control, reversing camera, tinted glass, 60:40 rear folding seats, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, air-conditioning and tilt and telescopic steering adjustment.
Every new Soul comes with six audio speakers (one in each door and two tweeters), AUX and USB connectivity.
As well as offering more room for occupants, the cargo capacity in new Soul has been increased by 4% to 238 litres (VDA) with the rear seats upright – expanding to 878 litres with the rear seats folded (loaded to the window line) and 1251 litres when loaded to the roof.
Improved NVH measures deliver outstanding refinement
To meet the constantly rising expectations of consumers around the world, Kia’s engineers worked hard to ensure that the second-generation Soul delivers ‘best-in-class’ refinement – achieving significantly better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) than the original model.
In part, this improvement is thanks to the biggest technical change for the new Soul – the adoption of an all-new platform which supports a re-engineered bodyshell. This is now made of 66% ultra-high strength or high strength steel, with stronger connections along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars and between the C-pillars. The application of structural adhesive around the door and tailgate openings and along the roof also improves rigidity.
These measures result in a 29% increase in torsional rigidity compared to the outgoing model which benefits the steering, handling and ride, as well as refinement. An additional benefit of using ultra-high strength steel is the opportunity to make the A-pillars 20 mm narrower, improving forward visibility.
To isolate occupants from road imperfections, the new Soul’s front suspension, engine and transmission are now mounted on an all-new stronger subframe with four bushings to minimize ride harshness – none were used on the first-generation Soul.
Other actions to reduce NVH include fitting a 25% denser isolation pad across the engine bay bulkhead and PU layered carpet through the cabin, and switching to expandable foam (rather than block foam) as a bodyshell cavity filler. To achieve a further improvement in refinement, the interior of new Soul’s doors now feature a plastic module housing fewer parts (saving weight) and acting as a more efficient sound insulator.
The NVH improvement program has achieved a significant effect. Idle noise level in the cabin is down 2 dB to 39 dB while road noise during a 60 kph cruise is cut by 3 dB to 63 dB.
5. ENGINES & TRANSMISSIONS
Well balanced blend of performance and economy
For Australia, the all-new Soul will be powered by the 113kW 2.0-litre Nu MPI petrol engine.with peak torque of 191Nm at 4700rpm.
Every new Soul will be equipped with gas-struts to support the hood, thus making regular engine bay checks an easy task.
The Nu lightweight engine is manufactured with cast aluminum cylinder blocks and aluminum cylinder heads and highlights an offset crankshaft (to reduce friction), a low-noise timing chain, mechanical lash adjustment, variable intake valve timing and a plastic variable intake manifold. Together, these features (and the six-speed transmissions) enable new Soul to deliver a competitive combination of power, performance, fuel economy and modest emissions.
The Nu powerplant will drive through a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode.
To reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions when cruising at speed, both the six-speed transmissions feature high top-gear ratios and low first-gear ratios that enable drivers to fully enjoy the new Soul’s off-the-line performance.
Buyers of automatic new Souls can switch between two operating modes – fully automatic or ‘Sport’ engaged by moving the lever towards the driver when in D mode. For city driving, fully automatic mode is ideal, while ‘Sport’ mode allows clutchless manual gear changes for greater driver involvement.
6. SUSPENSION & RUNNING GEAR
Improved steering and ride, plus enjoyable dynamics
The core specification of the new Soul’s fully independent MacPherson strut front suspension and CTBA (coupled torsion beam axle) rear suspension is unchanged from the first-generation model, but both systems have been further developed to improve handling agility, enhance shock absorbance and minimize NVH. The new bodyshell also creates a stronger foundation for the suspension and steering – in turn enhancing ride comfort and steering precision.
At the front, the suspension’s lower arms now have larger diameter bushes, the steering rack is a stronger one-piece housing and is moved forwards by 15 mm (closer to the axle line), while the stabilizer bar is moved rearward on the McPherson strut.
The steering geometry is modified to deliver improved on-centre steering feel. In combination, these changes result in improved steering response, reduced impacts felt through the wheel, and less sensitivity to winds.
The CTBA rear suspension is a particularly compact design which ensures minimum intrusion into the Soul’s cabin and trunk space, and also maximizes under-floor space to accommodate the fuel tank and spare wheel. The rear shock absorbers are longer and are mounted vertically, delivering greater suspension travel and smoother operation to improve ride comfort.
Every new Soul comes with Kia’s FlexSteer and MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering) systems. FlexSteer provides three different settings for the steering to match each customer’s preference with Normal, Comfort and Sport modes. The effort required to turn the wheel varies with mode, but the gearing remains the same. By fitting MDPS electric power assistance, rather than hydraulic assistance, significant fuel savings can be achieved – up to 3%, depending on driving conditions.
In keeping with Kia’s industry-leading localised ride and handling program, the Soul has been assessed and modified by Kia Motors Australia’s engineering team to provide the optimum match with Australian conditions.
As previously, the Soul’s steering wheel features both tilt and telescopic adjustment. The car’s turning circle is still compact, despite the 20 mm growth in length and wheelbase, measuring 10.6 metres and requiring just 2.85 turns of the steering wheel lock-to-lock.
To maximize stopping power, new Soul is equipped with an all-disc braking system featuring large diameter 280 mm ventilated front discs and 262 mm solid discs at the rear, backed up by an ABS braking system.
With the latest model, Kia has created a new Soul that delivers significantly improved driving dynamics, ride quality and refinement.
Delivering the highest safety standards
Kia Motors makes the safety of people using its products and other road users a top priority, and invests heavily in safety-related R&D to deliver real-world benefits to its customers.
The official crash test standards around the world are becoming tougher and Kia’s safety team has re-engineered the new Soul’s structure using a much higher percentage of high-tensile strength steel to ensure that the latest model will also deliver the highest safety standards in its class. The all-new Soul has already been awarded a five-star safety rating by the US NHTSA and there is the full expectation that it will win a similar mark from the ANCAP program.
For Australia Soul will come standard with a full suite of active and passive safety features, including ESC (electronic stability control), HAC (hill-start assist) and VSM (vehicle stability management), front fog lights, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
Inside the new Soul, the front seatbelts are fitted with pre-tensioners and there are six airbags – dual front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags (offering head protection to both front seat and rear seat occupants) as standard.
*$620 Premium Paint
Founded in 1944 as Kyungsung Precision Industry, Kia is currently Korea’s second largest car manufacturer and it’s oldest. From the company’s production of Korea’s first domestic bicycle, Kia moved on to producing Korea’s first motorcycle and the country’s first truck. Kia then became the first company in Korea to locally produce petrol car engines and the first domestic diesel engine. In 1979, Kia’s quality car production was recognised by the fact that two of the world’s leading European car makers chose the Korean car maker to build their ‘range topper’ models on their behalf – the Peugeot 604 and Fiat 132. But it was in the 1980s that Kia’s growth really took off. In 1986 Ford joined the list of car makers who looked to Kia to produce cars to be sold under their name, with the Festiva joining Ford’s line up first in the USA, then across the world, including in Australia for where Kia produced two generations of Ford’s entry-level car. Today, Kia produces a remarkably diverse range of vehicles sold in 190 countries around the world.
Alyson MacDonaldP: 02-9701-1768