Kia chose the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show to reveal the third-generation Kia Soul. Wildly successful in North America but not a big seller in Australia, Kia Australia is reportedly unsure if the car will make it Down Under or not. Regardless, the new Soul is an edgier take on the current model’s boxy design, but this time with more technology and character than before.
The new Soul will be available with three different drivetrains in North America – a 2.0-litre petrol with a six-speed manual or CVT automatic, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic from the Hyundai i30 N-Line and an all-electric Soul with the drivetrain from the Hyundai Kona Electric.
“The Soul has been a massive success since its introduction to the U.S. market, blowing its (now defunct) rivals out of the water and establishing itself as an automotive icon with its fun-loving character and eccentric style,” said Orth Hedrick, executive director of Car Planning and Telematics at Kia’s North American operation.
“Even with an entirely new generation of competitors now crowding the marketplace, we are confident the all-new Soul will once again prove to be a tough contender given its unparalleled style and impressive level of invigorating technology and customization options.”
Staying true to the traditional boxy Kia Soul design ethos, the new Soul is edgier and more modern than the car it replaces. Boomerang-shaped tailights feature prominently, while the front adopts a split headlight look with LED daytime running lights at the top and LED main beam lighting sitting below, borrowed from its Hyundai Kona cousin. For the first time, a Soul GT-Line is part of the model lineup, which adds larger alloy wheels with lowered suspension, a sportier bodykit and sports seats for enhanced driving appeal.
The interior of the new Kia Soul has taken a big step forward for design and available technology. A huge 10.25-inch touchscreen features in the centre of the dashboard, and is available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and satellite navigation. For the first time in a Soul, an 8.0-inch colour heads-up display is available, as is a multi-connection Bluetooth system, dual-zone climate control, wireless phone charging and a 640-watt Harman Kardon sound system with multi-colour LED mood lighting.
Dimensionally, the new Kia Soul has not changed much. Its overall length is 56mm longer at 4,196mm, while its wheelbase has grown by 259mm to eek out more cabin space. Its 1,800mm width and 1,600mm height are unchanged. Three exterior styling packages will be offered: GT-Line, X-Line and EX Designer Collection.
The aforementioned GT-Line offers the sportiest styling, while the X-Line gives more of a rugged look to the Soul with plastic bumpers, skid plates and wheel arches. The EX Designer Collection then adds a two-tone roof for a more distinct and stylish look.
In the United States, three drivetrains will be offered. A 110kW/192Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is standard and available with either a six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. A 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will be available in the GT-Line, while the Soul EV features the same 64kWh battery pack and 150kW/395Nm electric motor as the Hyundai Kona Electric.
Thanks to its largely poor local sales record, Kia Australia is yet to commit to the third-generation Kia Soul. If the company indicates that it wants to sell the Soul locally, the electric model could be the chosen candidate – though that wouldn’t be before 2020 at the earliest.
Stay tuned to Chasing Cars for the latest Kia news and reviews.