Kia Soul for 2014
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9th April, 2013
- Derived from the Track’ster concept
- With more room, more premium features, improved driving dynamics and true-to-its-past design, the all-new Soul is
more fun and functional than ever
The "Big Apple", America’s largest metropolis, hosted the global unveiling of Kia Motors’ all-new 2014 Soul urban
utility vehicle, last month, at the 113th New York Motor Show.
The signature Soul design is instantly recognisable yet thoroughly fresh, with more than a passing nod to the hot
Track’ster concept that was unveiled last year.
Riding on a new chassis that is stiffer, longer and wider, the all-new Soul has grown up without losing its edge,
allowing for more passenger and cargo room while reducing NVH levels.
Increased torque and significant suspension upgrades make the 2014 Soul a nimble and agile vehicle in congested urban
environments. Honouring Soul owners’ individualism, three unique trim levels will be available when US sales begin during
the third quarter of this year: Base, Plus and Exclaim.
“When the first Soul was introduced in 2009, everyone at Kia believed we had a hit on our hands, but we didn’t
realise how big that hit was going to be,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice-president of marketing and
communications at Kia Motors America (KMA).
“The Soul moved the needle significantly from a sales and marketing perspective, becoming one of our top-selling
cars and inspiring the now-legendary hamster commercials. It was important that the all-new Soul remain true to the
original iconic design while infusing it with improved driving dynamics and desirable features that add appeal,
sophistication and value.”
Keeping what made the current Soul special while addressing areas for improvement was no easy task. As the design team
at Kia’s California studio began putting virtual pen to virtual paper, engineers in the US and Korea focused on making
Soul a joy to drive.
Starting with a solid foundation was a key factor, and the new body enjoys a 28.7 per cent increase in torsional
rigidity over the current Soul. With the hard points set, the all-new Soul was boiled down to three focus areas:
Maintaining the iconic design while adding modern cues; providing premium features and content; and improving driving
dynamics that would make the 2014 Soul more desirable than ever.
Well-known for the close link between its concept vehicles and production models, Kia Motors took no chances with the
2014 Soul. When the wild Track’ster concept made its debut in 2012, Soul enthusiasts and pundits alike urged Kia to turn
fantasy into reality.
With 18 months from design freeze to production, the stage was set for the all-new Soul and many of the concept’s
dramatic design cues can be found in the production vehicle. Tom Kearns, chief designer at the California studio likened
the Track’ster to a bulldog and that theme is expressed from almost any angle of the all-new Soul.
“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 current car with the audacious proportions and stance of the Track’ster
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
The upright stance, squared 'shoulders' and distinctive mudguard flares are instantly recognisable as Soul. Combining
a longer 2,570mm wheelbase (up 20.3mm), overall width that’s broadened to 1,800mm (increased by 15.24mm) and the same
overall height of 1,610mm, adds a more aggressive edge to the all-new Soul’s appearance. Likewise, the wraparound
greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and tall ride height are all hallmark design elements.
Premium touches such as available LED front positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights help connect Soul to
others within the Kia line-up that share similar design cues, such as the Sorento SUV and the new Forte (Cerato) sedan.
Exterior Track’ster similarities are easy to spot. The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover
of 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 grille is present, but it’s been reworked to more closely resemble the concept. Adding a touch of
flare, the unique “floating” body colour panel inset into the lift gate has its roots based in the Track’ster as well.
Subtle enhancements include a wider (by 60.9mm over the previous Soul) opening for the lift gate, allowing Soul to
swallow more of this and that. While final colour names have yet to be determined, the 2014 Soul will be available in
seven new exterior hues, including the two seen on stage in New York: Solar Yellow and Inferno Red.
Overall, the design team paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the 2014 Soul’s
interior. Liberal applications of soft-touch materials are found on the instrument panel, centre console and door panels.
Details such as available leather seating with improved lateral and thigh support, and the use of high-gloss piano-black
trim pieces on the centre console and dash elevate the Soul’s interior to new levels of sophistication.
Citing the current 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,” noted Kearns. “But for the all-new Soul, we really wanted to lift as many of the Track’ster’s circular
interior reference points as possible.”
Front and centre is the triple-circle instrument cluster with deeply recessed gauges. Along the door panels, sculpted
circles incorporate the power windows and door locks. The centre console features a round gear shift knob and push-button
start – its location exclusive to Soul in the Kia line-up – which also are direct carryovers from Track’ster.
The front door-mounted speakers mirror the circular, high-mounted “floating” tweeters and utilise available LED-string
light technology to provide ripple-effect red-hued mood lighting.
The steering-wheel mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groupings along the lower spokes with the
buttons for the audio system and trip computer 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 visualise the inspiration for the all-new
Soul’s interior design,” said Kearns. “The design is organic, like the human body, and we feel it makes the
interior that much more appealing to the driver and passengers.” Taking that appeal a step further is Soul’s
desirable list of standard and optional equipment.
A Street Soul Named “Desire”
An attractive package is a let-down if the contents don’t deliver. Fortunately, the all-new Soul is set to delight
right out of the gate.
Most prominent in the new instrument panel is the available eight-inch touch screen – the largest ever offered on Soul
– which houses Kia’s second-generation telematics and infotainment system, UVO eServices, combined with Kia’s first use
of the Android-based operating platform. Launching with Soul, UVO eServices is now compatible with the iPhone and Android
UVO eServices is optional and takes in-car connectivity and media interplay to the next level, integrating a number of
other Kia firsts. Topping that list is the high-definition capacitive touch screen. Its wide viewing angle affords better
visibility and allows the user to scroll with the stroke of a finger.
Living side-by-side for the first time in a Kia vehicle, the audio/video and optional navigation controls are viewable
on the home screen. Combining the most accessed ancillary controls on a single screen helps reduce driver distraction and
improves overall functionality and ease-of-use.
Additionally, the available larger Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD colour screen found in the instrument binnacle now
displays turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system, helping to keep the driver’s eyes looking forward.
Another first is the integration of Pandora internet radio, the revolutionary on-line radio network that allows the
user to customise their listening experience. Users will no longer manage Pandora through their Smartphone. Instead,
Pandora is preloaded into the head unit and accessible through the touch screen and Voice Command, displaying the artist,
title and album cover art as well as allowing the user to conveniently skip songs, “like” the song with Pandora’s
thumbs-up rating system, or manage preferred stations.
Arriving with a three month complimentary subscription to SiriusXM™ Data Services and Travel Link, the all-new Kia
Soul has access to travel information such as road conditions, weather and security alerts as well as sports scores,
movie times, stock prices and fuel prices through the screen’s graphical interface and electronic programme guide. Better
still, customers will continue to have All Access to both Sirius and XM channels for the price of one should they elect
to continue a paid subscription after the three month trial period concludes.
Making all of this available technology easy to use is the industry-first integration of on-screen quick guide videos.
Easily accessed through the touch screen, users have the ability to view instructional videos that highlight all of the
features and functionality of UVO eServices along with the Smartphone app and web site, including MyPOIs, powered by
Google Maps. Combined, UVO eServices represents one of the most powerful and comprehensive infotainment systems on the
market today. Making UVO eServices even more impressive is that there is no cost to the owner.
Technology aside, driver and passengers will enjoy a larger and significantly quieter cabin with incremental increases
in front leg room (1,089mm, 20.3 inches more than the current Soul), rear leg room (up 5.1mm to 993mm), front headroom
(increased 5.1mm to 1,006) and front seat shoulder room (up 7.62mm to 1,409mm).
The all-new Kia Soul also offers a 12.7mm lower hip point and a step-in height that’s reduced 5.1mm, allowing for even
easier ingress and egress. Overall cargo capacity is increased by a half cubic foot, to 24.2.
Liberal use of expansion foam (replacing the previously used block foam) thoroughly fills body cavities, reducing
outside wind and road noise. A reinforced isolation pad in the cargo area and poly-urethane-layered carpet helps reduce
overall interior noise levels by approximately 3 decibels.
The Base Soul comes standard with a long list of features that set it apart from the competition. Power windows, door
locks and (heated) outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit are all standard.
Bluetooth® hands-free wireless technology, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary
service and USB/AUX inputs round out the Base Soul’s impressive audio/infotainment equipment. Desirable options include
remote keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Soul Plus takes a step up in standard and available optional amenities. Attractive 17-inch alloy wheels shod with
215/55R-17 tyres, outside mirror turn-signal indicators, auto-on/off head lights and unique mudguard garnish distinguish
the Plus from the Base exterior. Inside, the Plus benefits include a floor console stowage box with integrated arm rest,
UVO eServices, Rear Camera Display and rear seat centre arm rest. Options include navigation, an upgraded Infinity®
audio system, string-LED front speaker surround mood lighting, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof – a Soul first – leather
seating with segment-exclusive ventilated front driver and passenger seats, and seat heaters for all four outboard
positions, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel and a leather-wrapped gear
The Soul Exclaim adds to the Plus as standard features 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R-18 tyres, fog lights,
body-colour bumper “tusks,” projector head lights, front LED positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights. Open the door
and standard amenities include a high-gloss piano-black centre console, cooled glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel
and gear shift knob, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Optional
equipment includes navigation, Infinity audio, front speaker LED mood lighting, panoramic sunroof, leather seating with
front driver and passenger ventilation and heating for all four outboard positions. Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD screen,
HID head lights, push button start and automatic climate control make the Exclaim the most premium Soul ever.
Improved Driving Dynamics
Built on an all-new chassis that is nearly 29 per cent stiffer than before, the Soul’s stout skeleton provides the
base for a vehicle that places a premium on driving dynamics. Engineers put their efforts in strengthening the body at
key connection points along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars, cross members, and at the C-pillars. Fully, 66 per cent
of the chassis utilises either Ultra High Strength Steel (35 per cent) or High Strength Steel (31 per cent). The A-pillar
is 20.3 narrower, allowing for improved outward visibility, but through the use of Ultra High Strength Steel, it’s
lighter and stronger. The application of structural adhesive around the door openings and along the roof also helps
improve torsional rigidity.
Significant attention has been focused on improving the all-new Soul’s ride and handling through heavily revised front
and rear suspension set ups. The front subframe utilises four bushings (none are used on the current Soul) to reduce ride
harshness and impact booms over rough pavement. The stabiliser bar has been moved rearward on the McPherson strut front
suspension, while the steering box has been moved forward, lending better balance and subsequently improved handling.
Relocating the steering box has also yielded benefits to on-centre feel. The new one-piece steering gear housing is
stronger than the two-piece unit used on the current Soul, improving steering response and reducing impacts felt through
the wheel. Optional is a new Flex Steer™ system, which allows the driver to select from three distinct steering settings:
Comfort, Normal and Sport.
The shock absorbers on the torsion bar rear suspension have been turned vertically (they were positioned at an angle
on the current Soul) and lengthened. This arrangement allows for more suspension travel, improving ride comfort.
Motivation for the Base Soul is delivered by a gasoline direct injection (GDI) 130-horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) (97kW)
1.6-litre all-aluminium DOHC four-cylinder engine. The GAMMA engine produces 118 lb.-ft. of torque (160Nm) at 4,850 rpm.
The Plus and Exclaim models enjoy the more powerful 2.0-litre NU power plant. For the all-new 2014 Soul, the engine is
updated with GDI technology. Power is rated at 164 horsepower (122kW) at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. (205Nm) of torque at a
4,000 rpm. Both engines have been tuned to provide more low-end torque (nine per cent more torque at 1,500 rpm on the
2.0-litre; five per cent more on 1.6-litre) for an improved around-town driving experience.
The 1.6-litre engine is matched to a six-speed manual transmission or, optionally, to a six-speed automatic. The Plus
model may be equipped with either transmission while the Exclaim is available exclusively with the six-speed automatic.
Stay tuned to Next Car for Australian specifications, prices and release details in due course.