Kia enhances Soul's SUV traits
Rising demand for subcompact-sized SUV-styled models caused Kia to put more emphasis on the Soul's crossover characteristics. On the outside, Kia tweaked the design to make the wheel arches stand out more visually. Kia also updated the Soul's distinctive grille and added LED daytime running lights.
The new Soul's proportions also were increased to better compete in a segment that Kia says has grown to 12 competitors in 2014 from just four in 2008. The second-generation Soul is 20mm longer (4140mm), 15mm wider (1800mm) and its wheelbase has grown by 20mm (2570mm) compared with its predecessor to provide more legroom, headroom and shoulder room.
Kia says it improved the Soul's body stiffness, which makes it more stable and quieter inside the cabin. This was achieved by increasing the use of ultra-high-strength steel in the car body to 35 percent of the total from 15 percent in the previous-generation model.
Kia Soul customers in Europe are urban 30- to 40-somethings with a strong personality who like that the car's polarizing design allows them to stand out.
Is the target to outsell the predecessor?
Kia sold 55,000 first-generation Souls in Europe from 2008 to 2013. The aim is to beat that total but capacity constraints could prevent this. The car is only made in Korea and that plant has been challenged to keep up with demand. Kia sold 700,000 first-generation Souls worldwide. The new Soul, which debuted in the United States late last year, was the No. 2 selling subcompact in the world's second-largest market through two months with a volume of 10,584.
The Soul now offers auto-dimming headlights; LED daytime running lights; a heated steering wheel, rearview camera and automatic parking that can guide the car into parallel and perpendicular spaces.
“It looks more elegant, sophisticated and grown up,” Wolfgang Sailer, Kia Europe product manager for the Soul said at the car’s press launch in Sicily, Italy, last month.
Base price: 16,990 euros (Germany)
Platform: K (also used for Cee'd)
Where built: Gwangju, South Korea
Lowest CO2 emissions: 132g/km (126-hp, 1.6-liter diesel with manual transmission)
Main rivals: Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke
Sailer added that the Soul’s interior was “completely redesigned” to increase perceived quality. Upgrades include better leather, more refined stitching and an easier-to-read instrument cluster.
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