Third generation of Kia Soul uncovered in Los Angeles

Taking everything that popularized the Soul, Kia’s quirky, unconventionally styled urban crossover, the carmaker has come out with a brand new third generation model which has more cutting-edge technology, and urban practicality.

The new Soul stays true to its design heritage, with a boxy silhouette that has newly-sculpted lines with technical lighting elements. New exterior design highlights include high-tech LED headlights, integrated into its wide ‘face’ and paired with slim daytime running lights and turn signal indicators. The larger front grille has a unique two-tone design, sitting between front fenders which add volume to the car’s clean and smooth surfaces.

In profile, the new Soul’s distinctive C-pillars are designed to resemble airplane wings and feature a new ‘Soul’ graphic. At the rear, new 3D wraparound boomerang-shaped taillights match the signature vertical rear window, sitting atop a tailgate ‘island’.

There are various powertrain options, depending on the market, with engine outputs from 149 ps/179 Nm to 204 ps/265 Nm. Kia’s own CVT, which it calls an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), will be available for those who require fuel efficiency. For the high-performance variants, there’s also a 7-speed double-clutch transmission.

As before, there’s also an EV variant in the range (pictured below). This has a new state-of-the-art liquid-cooled lithium ion polymer 64 kWh battery pack which reduces the need for daily charging. And with Combined Charging System DC fast-charge as standard equipment, ‘topping up’ the battery charge is said to be a brief process.

Since the Soul’s inception, music has been a strong theme behind its design. In its third generation, this continues to be a core attribute of the Soul’s persona. For the new model, designers and engineers have ‘turned up the volume’ on the interior. Drawing inspiration from the ‘emotional visualization of sound’, the Soul’s interior space is finished with shapes and textures that reflect acoustic-inspired elements, creating a full sensory experience.

The new Soul retains the signature tweeter speakers bookending the dashboard, a feature of the previous-generation Soul which exemplified the car’s combination of cool design and ultimate functionality.

The cabin is fitted with an optional sound mood lighting system, emitting soft light from the centre door panels and a unique 3D-patterned surface on the upper door panels. The system can synchronize to the beat of music playing through the Soul’s audio system, with a rainbow of customizable colours.

Despite its compact footprint, the Soul’s boxy dimensions continue to offer a surprising amount of cargo and passenger space. Slightly longer than before, it has gained more intelligent packaging, making accessibility even easier. The width of the car is unchanged at 1800 mm, while its height also remains at 1600 mm. However, the wheelbase on the new platform is 30 mm longer at 2600 mm and the front overhang, at 865 mm, has been stretched by 25 mm, creating more space in the cabin for occupants.

A wider and lower rear tailgate opening – with a new easy-grip handle – improves ease of loading and unloading. The boot’s dual-level floor offers flexibility with the ability to accommodate taller items using the lower level setting, or hide valuables in its higher setting by creating a space beneath the boot floor. For occupants, sculpted front door panels create larger front door openings, rendering the car even easier to enter and exit.

Depending on market, the new Soul is available with a large 10.25-inch HD colour touchscreen infotainment system, with split-screen functionality and rearview monitor with parking guidance.

The infotainment system is available with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a Bluetooth Multi-Connection, enabling two Bluetooth devices to be connected at the same time. An 8.0-inch Head-Up Display is also available.

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[Chips Yap]