After presenting the rather brave Track'ster Concept last year, Kia has unveiled the production version of the brand new 2014 Kia Soul at the New York Auto Show. Designed in California, Korea's popular hatchback looks better than ever.
The improvements start with the chassis, which is 28 percent more rigid than the current car thanks to it being made 35 percent of Ultra High Strength Steel and 31 percent High Strength Steel (and no, so far as we can tell, Super Wimpy Steel). It also has a 0.8 inches longer wheelbase and an overall width that's broadened by 0.6 inches, but overall height remained the same at 63.4 inches. With the wraparound windows, this makes it look sportier, while the 0.8-inches narrower A-pillow allow better visibility.
It will be available in seven new exterior hues, including the two seen on stage in New York: "Solar Yellow" and "Inferno Red".
The Base Soul gets 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6-liter with direct injection. The Plus and Exclaim comes with a 2.0-liter engine putting out 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at a 4,000 rpm. Tuned for more low-end torque (nine percent more torque at 1,500 rpm on the 2.0-liter; five percent more on 1.6-liter), the engines are mated to a six-speed manual transmission or an automatic as a option. The Exclaim package is only available with the six-speed auto box.
The suspension got redesigned as well. The front subframe utilizes four bushings (none are used on the current Soul) to reduce ride harshness and impact booms. The shock absorbers on the torsion bar rear suspension have been turned vertically and lengthened, allowing for more suspension travel.
The stabilizer bar has been moved rearward on the McPherson strut front suspension, while the steering box has been moved forward, lending better balance and improved handling. The new one-piece steering gear housing is stronger than the two-piece unit used on the current Soul, improving steering response and reducing impacts felt through the wheel. Optional is a new Flex Steer system which will change the steering ratio in three stages to suit the driving style.
The interior has a supposedly more premium feel to it thanks to plenty of soft materials all around, the optional leather and high gloss piano black trim come with many of the Track'ster's circular interior reference points. As far as gadgets go, the eight-inch touch screens infotainment functions work with both Android and iPhones, while using voice command and Google Maps. Legroom and headroom was slightly improved as well, while overall cargo capacity is increased by a half cubic foot, to 24.2.
Standard equipment for the Base Soul includes power windows, door locks and (heated) outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker MP3 audio unit, but further up, the options list is pretty much endless. You can have your Soul with 18-inch wheels instead of the 16-inchers, a 10-way power seat wrapped in ventilated leather for the driver, or LED mood lighting and a panoramic sunroof. This Korean certainly looks funky.