The new 2014 Kia Soul compact SUV goes on sale in Ireland this week. The previous model was misunderstood - judged by its unconventional cover. And I was partly guilty of that too. It was not until I was in the US on holiday about two years ago that I hired one for a week and I was able to appreciate the real asset it was. Fun to drive, good accommodation and boot space, and very functional. I really enjoyed the Kia Soul - It was great.
Now a new model has arrived with a smooth new-look exterior, a design inspired by the 2012 Kia Track’ster concept, which introduces a thoroughly fresh, more grown-up appearance without losing its individualistic edge.
Two models are initially available in Ireland - the EX (€24,495) and the Platinum (€28,495) both powered by a 128hp 1.6 diesel engine.
The EX is generously equipped with comfort, technology and safety features including 17” alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control/speed limiter, climate control automatic air con, digital radio and rear view camera.
The Platinum includes all of the above and adds 18” alloys, sat nav, leather upholstery with heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, panoramic sunroof and an Infinity sounds system.
Although the Soul is ‘new’ – the exterior body panels are not carried over, and the interior is a new design – the 2014 Soul’s upright stance, squared shoulders, wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and confidence-inspiring ride height are all hallmark design elements which will ensure the new model is instantly recognisable as a Soul.
Exterior similarities between the new Soul and Track’ster concept are clear. The large trapezoidal lower front air intake is carried over from the concept, and the fog lights – located low down and pushed to the outer edges – mirror those found on the concept. Kia’s signature grille is present, though reworked to more closely resemble the concept and bring it in line with other models in the product line-up.
The biggest technical change for the new 2014 Soul is the adoption of an all-new platform, based on that of the latest Kia cee’d.
The re-engineered bodyshell is now made of 66 per cent ultra-high strength or high strength steel, with stronger connections along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars and between the C-pillars. The result is a 29 per cent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the outgoing model. Thanks to the use of ultra-high strength steel, the A-pillars are 20mm narrower, improving forward visibility.
The stronger bodyshell, together with suspension upgrades, has enabled Kia engineers to create a car with significantly improved driving dynamics, ride quality and greater refinement.
The 2014 Kia Soul has subtly larger dimensions. The overall length is increased by 20mm (to 4,140mm) and the wheelbase has been extended by 20mm (to 2,570mm). The new model is also 15 mm wider (to 1,800mm) and 10mm lower (now 1,600mm). The new dimensions also allowed improvements to the vehicle’s practicality. The tailgate opening is now 60mm wider, providing easier access to a larger cargo area, which has had its capacity increased by 4 per cent to 354 litres with the rear seats upright.
Driver and passengers in the new Soul will enjoy a significantly quieter cabin, with higher quality materials throughout, and greater sound proofing compared to the outgoing Soul – interior noise levels are reduced by approximately three decibels.
The cabin is also larger, with increased front headroom (by 6mm), 1,040 mm front leg room, and increased shoulder room (up 7.5mm). Rear legroom is also increased (by 4mm). Allowing even easier entry and egress, the new Soul’s step-in height has been reduced (by 5mm), while seat hip points are lower (by 12mm), front and rear.
Buyers can make a choice between single- and two-tone interiors, with black, brown and grey leather and fabrics available. Blue, red and orange high-gloss interior highlights will also be available with a new range of interior packages during the life cycle.
“The Soul has proven to be an iconic model for Kia since its launch in 2008 and has clocked up sales of over 700,000 worldwide. We at Kia Motors Ireland are delighted to re-launch the car in Ireland into a segment that has doubled in size this year and are confident we can sell 300-400 Souls in 2015,” says Kia Motors Ireland managing director James Brooks at its launch.
Commenting on Kia’s performance year to date, he says: “We are delighted Kia is now firmly established as a top 10 brand in Ireland.”