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2010 Kia Soul...
Or cheering spirit for these times?

2010 Kia Soul urban crossover: front static view.

Soul: realistic spirit with a joyful soul of fun and practicality.


7 February 2009.

Bechara Aboul-Nasr.

Behind its funny looks, the timing of the new Kia arrival to the USA and Europe this spring, may end up expressing something more than the "Soul" name intended to communicate originally.

This soul expression of a youthful aspiration for something even more unconventional, yet practical, has to blend now with the spirit of the current critical times to generate something different, something to brighten the landscape in a way or another.

2010 Kia Soul small-to-compact crossover: rear static view.

Cubic designs make the most of the body footprint on the road.

In fact, the new Kia Soul and similar products might prove well timed for the coming few years of adjustment, of back-to-normal times of clearer distinction between greedy speculation and responsible investment, between clever, repayable borrowing and wrongly calculated timing to satisfy some needs or desires.

This kind of models can somehow reconcile the needed spirit of realism with a joyful soul of fun and practicality, at prices starting from US$13,300 for the Soul in the USA (see prices box), and from Euros 14,990 in Europe (France example).

2010 Kia Soul
Main body dimensions
Category Urban crossover
Seating Capacity 5 passengers
Wheelbase (in / mm) 100.4 inches / 2550 mm
Length (in / mm) 161.6 inches / 4105 mm
Height (in / mm) 63.4 inches / 1610mm
Width (in / mm) 70.3 inches / 1785 mm
Track (in / mm, front) 61.8 inches / 1570 mm
Track (in / mm, rear) 62.0 inches / 1575 mm


So, what is this Soul about, anyway? As a small-to-compact urban crossover passenger car, the South Korean made Soul brings an original, South Californian design to people who simply want a combination of small body size with 5-passenger transport capability, practical modularity from dash to trunk and cheap to buy and run, but with something different from the usual bare rational solutions.

In dimensions terms, the Soul fits above the small, subcompact B-segment and below the typical compact, C-segment, upper medium category.

On top of it exterior distinction, Soul offers many customisation possibilities which can, precisely, add some joyful colours in these times.

2010 Kia Soul: rear static view.

Three dimensional edges even around the tailgate and lights.

The design speaks for itself, so the opposite photos tell it better than words, which we leave for other things you'd like to know.

Engines - in the USA, Soul will be available with two four-cylinder gasoline (petrol) engines, of 1.6 or 2.0 litre displacement, both equipped with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT).

The 1.6-litre engine (aluminium block) generates 120 hp and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The 2.0-litre engine (140 hp, cast iron block) is available with either the five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, and is available for Soul+, Soul! and Soul Sport versions.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, dashboard and seats view.

Clear audio distribution in a context with many possible colours.

Kia Motors America gives an estimated average fuel economy for both engines of 30 or more miles per U.S. gallon (equivalent to 36 miles per imperial gallon, 7.84 litres / 100 km, or 12.75 km/litre).

In the European specifications, the Kia Soul urban crossover offers a choice of two gasoline engines and one diesel, with manual or automatic transmission (depending on individual markets). The 2-litre gasoline unit produces 142 ps at 6,000 rpm and 186 Nm of torque at 4,600 rpm, and will be offered with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.

2010 Kia Soul: speedometer, rpm and gauges view.

Simple instruments display in basic contemporary contours.

The smaller 1.6-litre gasoline engine generates 126 ps at 6,300 rpm and 156 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm, while consumers in Europe (and some other countries) will have a 1.6-litre diesel engine offer featuring a variable geometry turbocharger( VGT) generating 126 ps at 4,000 rpm and 255 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm.  Both of these 1.6-litre, four cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engines are based closely on engines fitted to the European-built, Kia cee’d.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, central stack view.

Easy-to-see / reach audio, communication and climate controls.

Kia also presented at the 2008 Paris auto show a Soul Hybrid concept car, featuring a 1.6-litre gasoline engine, mated to a 15 kW, 105 Nm electric motor and an automatic CVT, or continuously variable transmission. No marketing dates have been announced yet for this hybrid version.

Interior - The Soul can welcome up to five adults in its small-to-compact body size. For those who might be a bit younger at heart than on paper, access to and exit from the cabin are made easier thanks to the tall doors and a high seating position.

Standard interior features include in all versions a tilt steering column, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with multiple seating and cargo arrangements, power door locks, power windows with driver’s side auto-down and map lamps. Each version is available with several options for interior colours, fabrics and audio system packages.

The interior design treats audio and communication matters with particular attention, since traffic jams represent a significant amount of the daily life of an urban vehicle such as the Soul.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, storage on top of centre stack.

One of the 14 available storage locations in the cabin .

Hence, the distribution of these elements (controls and speakers) is clear, from the dashboard with its three-dial instrument cluster, LCD illumination, to the floating centre stack design comprising the AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with (USA) SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities. Standard auxiliary and USB input jacks also can be found in the centre console with iPod control via the audio head unit and steering wheel controls.

Versions - In the USA, Kia's Soul will be available in four trims, Soul, Soul+, Soul! and Soul Sport.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, iPod, USB, elctrical outlet and auxiliary port.

Connections for iPod, USB, auxiliary link and electrical port.

The standard equipment of the basic Soul version includes (in addition to the earlier mentioned standard interior features) black door handles and side mirrors, body-coloured bumpers, rear wiper/washer and 15-inch steel wheels fitted with P195/65R15 tires.

The Soul+ adds to its standard equipment keyless remote entry, solar glass, air conditioning, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, tweeter speakers, privacy glass on the rear side and rear windows body-colour handles and power side mirrors along with 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, rear seatbacks up.

2010 Kia Soul: inside, rear seatbacks down.

2010 Kia Soul: trunk / boot with rear seatbacks up.

60/40 folding seats and additional speakers in the boot.

With the Soul!, the standards list adds power moonroof, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels with P225/45R18 tires.

The Soul Sport adds a dynamic touch with side sills, rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels and specific front and rear fascias.

Options - In terms of options, the Soul+ can add an audio upgrade package, power moonroof and floor mats (standard on the Soul! which adds unique beige-black interior trim and cloth seats and metal-finish trim).

For the Soul! and Soul Sport, an Audio upgrade package enhances the sound with a centre speaker, subwoofer and 315-watt external amplifier.

The Soul Sport offers an optional sport-tuned suspension, metal pedals and specific red-black interior trim with sport cloth seats and metal-finish trim.

An optional Gentex-supplied auto-dimming interior mirror containing a 3.5'' LCD (liquid crystal display) backup camera display can also be ordered. It works with a video camera mounted at the rear of the vehicle, when the gear lever is shifted to the reverse position.

Body and suspension- Soul's new platform features a unitary body structure (unibody) with front-wheel drive and a reasonable wheelbase size (100.4 inches / 2550 mm) compared to the overall length (161.6 inches / 4105 mm) of the vehicle (see dimensions).

The body structure  is made of around 70 percent high-tensile-strength steel to increase structural strength without penalising weight, while achieving in the same time high torsional stiffness to enhance handling, ride quality and refinement.

2010 Kia Soul: optional Gentex auto-dimming mirror with 3.5'' rear camera display (RCD).

Gentex auto-dimming mirror with a rear camera display (RCD).

Mounted on the front sub-frame that supports the engine and transmission, the Soul's front suspension is independent with McPherson struts and coil springs to favour responsive handling and an agile ride.

The rear suspension is sub-frame mounted with a transverse torsion beam axle and trailing arms for minimum intrusion into the cargo space. For optimal space, the rear anti-roll stabilizer bar is mounted inside the torsion beam.

Brakes and active safety - The brakes use front discs with rear drums on the basic Soul version, and four discs in all other versions. A four-sensor, four-channel antilock brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), and rear disc brakes are standard on Soul+, Soul! and Soul Sport models.

2009 Kia Soul: Bluetooth, Sirius, MP3 audio and communication system.

Bluetooth, Sirius, MP3, auxiliary and CD controls.

Other safety features include front seat active headrests, dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted and full-length side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Prices - Kia Soul prices start in the USA from US$13,300 (manufacturer suggested retail price, MSRP, excluding the US$695 freight charge, taxes, title, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by retailer).

The Soul+ starts at $14,950 and tops out at $17,100 when the Audio Package and power moonroof are included. Above, the Soul! prices stretch from $16,9501 to $17,900 with all available options included. The Soul Sport is priced from $16,9501 to $18,600 with all options included.

2010 Kia Soul: storage under the trunk floor cover.

Additional storage under the trunk / boot floor cover.

Kia covers its models in the USA with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the comprehensive coverage program.

In Europe, the Kia Soul prices start from Euros 14,990 (France on-the-road prices) for the 1.6-litre petrol (126hp) with the 5-speed manual gearbox, and from Euros 20,690 for the 1.6-litre diesel (128hp) with the 4-speed UrbanMatic automatic gearbox, with 5-years unlimited-mileage warranty and road assistance.

Kia 2008 figures - On the statistics side, Kia (part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group) increased its global sales last year by 8.4% (compared to 2007), reaching a total of 1,375,738 passenger cars, recreation vehicles (RVs) and light trucks (export sales, domestic sales and sales from overseas plants).

Passenger car sales made up 63% of all Kia vehicles sold last year, marking an 11.7% year-on-year increase. China (151,085 units sold) and general markets (262,166 units sold in Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa) have experienced the largest year-on-year gains of 34.2%, and 30.5%, respectively. Cumulative sales increases were also experienced in Korea (a 16.2% gain from 316,432 units sold), while Europe (a 2.3% decrease to 335,138 units sold) and North America have experienced decreases (8.6% decrease to 310,917 units sold).

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