It’s Got Track'ster Soul: Kia Unveils Second Generation of its Compact “Urban Utility Vehicle”

Like the late Frank Sinatra said “if you can make it there, you’ll make it everywhere” – which is why Kia chose the Big Apple, a city it rightly names as the world’s most iconic metropolis, to launch the second generation, 2014 Soul.

Mind you, despite retaining the distinctive profile the new Soul is not a revamp of the current model that was launched in 2009 but an all-new car that rides on a new platform that’s 28.7 stiffer than before. The second-generation Soul was designed by Kia’s California studio, which drew inspiration from the Track’ster concept that was unveiled at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, and engineered both in the US and Korea.

Compared to the outgoing model, the wheelbase has grown by 20.3 mm, to 2,570 and the width by 15.24 mm to 1,800mm, while the height has remained the same at 1,610 mm. This means that front and rear legroom have increased by 20.3 and 5.1 mm respectively, front headroom by 5.1 mm and front shoulder room by 7.62 mm.

Design wise, the new car has kept the shape of the glasshouse, the vertically-mounted taillights and the tall riding height of the first Soul and added the Track’ster-inspired trapezoidal front air intake, redesigned grille and LED daytime running lights and real “halo” lights that are also seen in the 2014 Sorento and Forte sedan.

“The all-new Soul was one of the more difficult assignments we’ve taken on”, said Tom Kearns, chief designer at the company’s California studio. “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 out.”

The cabin features a circular motif, with Kearn noting that his design team “wanted to lift as many of the Track’ster’s interior reference points as possible”. There’s a triple-center instrument cluster, circle door panels for the power window and lock switches, and circular pods for the audio and trip control buttons at the steering wheel – which, as you’ve probably have guessed, is circular, too!

On the other hand, the eight-inch HD capacitive touch screen is most certainly not circular, but it does offer a wide viewing angle and one-finger scrolling between menus and features like the UVO eServices infotainment system.

Ultra-high and high strength steel make up a full 66 percent of the chassis construction, allowing for lower weight and improved torsional rigidity. The suspension layout is the same as before, with McPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear, but it has been thoroughly revised for better handling and the steering box has been moved to the rear for improved feel.

The Base version of the 2014 Soul is powered by a 1.6-liter GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) four-cylinder with 130HP and 118 lb-ft (160 Nm) of torque. The Plus and Exclaim models feature the 2.0-liter NU unit that’s rated at 164HP and 151 lb-ft (205 Nm) of torque. Buyers of the Base and the Plus Soul can choose between a manual or an automatic transmission, both six-speeders, while the Exclaim is available only with the auto.

By Andrew Tsaousis

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