GROWING up has come with maturity for the second generation Kia Soul.
Sitting on an all-new platform while still maintaining its iconic square lines, the Soul will be offered in just one trim level starting from $23,990 exclusively with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant.
That starting price is an increase over the previous entry-level model (which was $21,490 for a smaller 1.6-litre engine), but it is one grand cheaper than the outgoing equivalent Soul+ with an automatic transmission.
Kia is moving the Soul to a crossover skew rather than being a quirky niche offering. It's likely to be pitched at primarily the Toyota Rukus, along with new rivals such as the Suzuki S-Cross, Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008, Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke - all newcomers to the fledgling sub-compact SUV market.
The Soul is bigger inside with improved leg, knee and shoulder room. With a greater ride height than a standard car, it makes the Soul easy to enter and exit - especially important for older passengers as well as for parents loading kids.
Kia Australia has continued its local tuning program and tweaked the ride for our market.
Changes to the sub-frame bushes, along with changes to the dampener, steering, spring and bar rates have been made to better suit our conditions, rather than adopting the North American market set-up for which the Soul was primarily designed.
Among the changes are a slightly heavier body, but the Soul has 29% increase in torsional rigidity along with smaller A-pillars for better frontal vision.
Standard equipment will include cruise control, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, tinted glass, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, six-speaker stereo with 800MB hard drive for MP3 files and a 11cm touch-screen, AUX/USB ports, air-conditioning and tilt and telescopic steering adjustment.
Five-star safety is expected with stability control, anti-lock brakes, six airbags (front, side and curtain), as well as a tyre pressure monitoring system which is a first for Kia cars Down Under.
Model: Kia Soul Si.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive crossover.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 113kW @ 6200rpm and peak torque of 191Nm @ 4700rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.6 litres/100km (combined average, manual); 8.4L/100km (a)
CO2: 178g/km (m); 195g/km (a).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $23,990 (m); $25,990 (a).
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