SAN DIEGO, August 28, 2013 – Entering San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, drivers are greeted by the city’s iconic “Archway,” a luminescent preview to the Victorian buildings and vibrant nightlife found within this Southern California waterfront gem. Surrounded by universities, San Diego is home to nearly 65,000 college students and is the perfect locale to showcase the all-new 2014 Kia Soul. The Soul’s urban DNA shines in the city’s 16-block downtown area, and improvements to the suspension make it ready for the challenging roads found just outside the city. The twisting back roads of San Diego hill country provide a picturesque view of the city skyline and ample opportunity to experience the Soul for all that it offers.
The varying colors and distinctive landscapes make Southern California a place like no other. As unique as the region, the all-new Soul displays its own individuality through a blend of funky, fun-to-drive characteristics and premium upgrades intended to set it apart from the pack. A playful color palette, including Soul-exclusive colors such as Solar Yellow, Kale Green, and Inferno Red, along with sporty new wheel designs, pump up the dynamic equation that has made Soul one of Kia Motors America’s top sellers. The all-new 2014 Soul is expected to arrive in Kia retail showrooms early in the fourth quarter.
Keeping what made the current Soul special while addressing areas for improvement was no easy task. As the design team at Kia’s California studio began putting virtual pen to virtual paper, engineers in the U.S. and Korea focused on making Soul a joy to drive. Starting with a solid foundation was key, and the new body enjoys a 28.7 percent increase in torsional rigidity over the current Soul. With the hard points set, the all-new Soul was boiled down to three focus areas: Maintaining the iconic design while adding modern cues; providing premium features and content; and improving driving dynamics to make the 2014 Soul more desirable than ever.
Well-known for the close link between its concept vehicles and production models, Kia Motors had an outstanding inspiration point for the 2014 Soul. When the wild Track’ster concept made its debut in 2012, Soul enthusiasts and pundits alike urged Kia to turn the aggressively fun fantasy into reality. With 18 months from design freeze to production, the stage was set for the all-new Soul, and many of the concept’s dramatic design cues can be found in the production vehicle. Tom Kearns, chief designer at the California studio likened the Track’ster to a bulldog and that theme is expressed from almost any angle of the all-new Soul.
“The all-new Soul was one of the more difficult assignments we’ve taken on,” said Kearns. “Striking the right balance between the wonderful design of the current car with the audacious proportions and stance of the Track’ster was daunting. It proved to be a truly collaborative effort with guidance from Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt and assistance from our studio in Korea. In the end, we’ve kept the essence of Soul while infusing it with more presence inside and out.”
The upright stance, squared shoulders and distinctive fender flares are instantly recognizable as Soul. Combining a longer 101.2-inch wheelbase (up 0.8 inches), overall width that’s broadened to 70.9 inches (increased by 0.6 inches) and a reduced overall height of 63.0 inches (decreased by 0.4 inches), adds a more aggressive edge to the all-new Soul’s appearance. Likewise, the wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and upright stance are all hallmark design elements. Premium touches such as available LED front positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights help connect Soul to siblings within the Kia lineup that share similar design cues, such as the 2014 Sorento CUV and 2014 Forte sedan.
Exterior Track’ster similarities are easy to spot. The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover from the concept, and the location of the available fog lights – down low and pushed to the leading edges – mirror those found on the Track’ster. Kia’s signature grille is present, but it’s been reworked to more closely resemble the concept. Adding a touch of flare, the unique “floating” body-color panel inset into the lift gate originated with the Track’ster as well. Subtle enhancements include a wider (by 2.4 inches over the previous Soul) opening for the lift gate, allowing Soul to swallow more stuff. While paint color names have yet to be finalized, the 2014 Soul will be available in seven new exterior hues, including the two seen on stage at this year’s New York International Auto Show: Solar Yellow and Inferno Red.
Overall, the design team paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the 2014 Soul’s interior. Liberal applications of soft-touch materials are found on the instrument panel, center console and door panels. Details such as available leather seating with improved lateral and thigh support, and the use of high-gloss piano-black trim pieces on the center console and dash elevate the Soul’s interior to new levels of sophistication.
Citing the current Soul interior as a starting point, Kia’s designers played up the circular theme found inside Track’ster. “With the previous Soul, we kind of dipped our toe in the water when it came to incorporating the circular patterns,” noted Kearns. “But for the all-new Soul, we really wanted to lift as many of the Track’ster’s circular interior reference points as possible.”
Front and center is the triple-circle instrument cluster with deeply recessed gauges. Along the door panels, sculpted circles incorporate the power windows and door locks. The center console features a round gear shift knob and push-button start (its location exclusive to Soul in the Kia lineup), which also are direct carryovers from Track’ster. The front door-mounted speakers mirror the circular, high-mounted “floating” tweeters and utilize available LED-string light technology to create ripple-effect, red-hued mood lighting. The steering-wheel mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groupings along the lower spokes with the buttons for the audio system and trip computer falling readily to the thumbs, enabling the driver’s hands to remain on the wheel at all times.
“If you think about droplets falling into a still pond, you begin to visualize the inspiration for the all-new Soul’s interior design,” said Kearns. “The design is organic, like the human body, and we feel it makes the interior that much more appealing to the driver and passengers.” Taking that appeal a step further is Soul’s desirable list of standard and optional equipment.
A Street Soul Named “Desire”
An attractive package can be a let-down if the contents don’t deliver. Fortunately, the all-new Soul is set to delight right out of the gate. Most prominent in the new instrument panel is the available eight-inch touch screen – the largest ever offered on Soul. Also available on the new Soul is UVO eServices1, Kia’s second-generation infotainment and telematics system.
UVO is optional and takes in-car connectivity and media interplay to the next level, integrating a number of other Kia firsts. Topping that list is the high-definition capacitive touch screen. Its wide viewing angle affords better visibility and allows the user to scroll with the stroke of a finger. Living side-by-side for the first time in a Kia vehicle, the audio/video and optional navigation controls are viewable on the home screen. Combining the most accessed ancillary controls on a single screen helps reduce driver distraction and improves overall functionality and ease-of-use. Additionally, the available larger Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD color screen found in the instrument binnacle now displays turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system, helping to keep the driver’s eyes looking forward.
Another first is the integration of Pandora®2 internet radio, the revolutionary online radio network that allows the user to customize their listening experience. Users will no longer manage Pandora through their Smartphone. Instead, Pandora is preloaded into the headunit and accessible through the touch screen and Voice Command, displaying the artist, title and album cover art as well as allowing the user to conveniently skip songs, “like” the song with Pandora’s thumbs-up rating system, or manage preferred stations.
Arriving with a three month complimentary subscription to SiriusXM™ Data Services3 and Travel Link, the all-new Soul has access to travel information such as road conditions, weather and security alerts as well as sports scores, movie times, stock prices and fuel prices through the screen’s graphical interface and electronic program guide. Better still, customers will continue to have All Access to both Sirius and XM channels for the price of one should they elect to continue a paid subscription after the three month trial period concludes.
In addition to all this technology, driver and passengers will enjoy a larger and significantly quieter cabin with incremental increases in front leg room (42.9 inches, 0.8 inches more than the current Soul), rear leg room (up 0.2 inches to 39.1), front headroom (increased 0.2 inches to 39.6) and front seat shoulder room (up 0.3 inches to 55.5). The all-new Soul also offers a 0.5-inch lower hip point and a step-in height that’s reduced 0.2 inches, allowing for even easier ingress and egress. Overall cargo capacity is increased by a half cubic foot, to 24.2. Liberal use of expansion foam (replacing the previously used block foam) thoroughly fills body cavities, reducing outside wind and road noise. A reinforced isolation pad in the cargo area and poly-urethane-layered carpet helps reduce overall interior noise levels by approximately 3 decibels.
The Base Soul comes standard with a long list of features that set it apart from the competition. Power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit are all standard. Bluetooth® hands-free wireless technology4, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary service and USB/AUX inputs round out the Base Soul’s impressive audio/infotainment equipment. Desirable options include remote keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Soul Plus takes a step up in standard amenities and available options. Attractive 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/55R-17 tires, outside mirror turn-signal indicators, auto-on/off head lights and unique fender garnish distinguish the Plus from the Base exterior. Inside, the Plus benefits include a floor console stowage box with integrated armrest, UVO eServices, Rear Camera Display5 and rear seat center armrest. Options include navigation, an upgraded 350-watt Infinity® audio system6, string-LED front speaker surround mood lighting, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof – a Soul first – leather seating with segment-exclusive ventilated front driver and passenger seats, and seat heaters for all four outboard positions, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel and a leather-wrapped gear shift knob.
The Soul Exclaim adds to the Plus as standard features 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R-18 tires, fog lights, body-color bumper “tusks,” projector head lights, front LED positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights. Inside, standard amenities include a high-gloss piano-black center console, cooled glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Optional equipment includes navigation, Infinity audio, front speaker LED mood lighting, panoramic sunroof, leather seating with driver and front passenger ventilation and heating for all four outboard positions. Supervision Cluster/TFT LCD screen, HID head lights, push button start and automatic climate control make the Exclaim the most premium Soul ever.
Improved Driving Dynamics
Built on an all-new chassis that is nearly 29 percent stiffer than before, the Soul’s stout skeleton provides the base for a vehicle that places a premium on driving dynamics. Engineers put their efforts in strengthening the body at key connection points along the cowl, upper and lower B-pillars, cross members, and at the C-pillars. An impressive 66 percent of the chassis utilizes either Ultra High Strength Steel (35 percent) or High Strength Steel (31 percent). The A-pillar is 0.8-inches narrower, allowing for improved outward visibility, but through the use of Ultra High Strength Steel, it’s lighter and stronger than that of the outgoing model. The application of structural adhesive around the door openings and along the roof also helps improve torsional rigidity.
Significant attention has been focused on improving the all-new Soul’s ride and handling through heavily revised front and rear suspension setups. The front subframe utilizes four bushings (none are used on the current Soul) to reduce ride harshness and impact booms over rough pavement. The stabilizer bar has moved rearward on the McPherson strut front suspension, while the steering box has moved forward, lending better balance and subsequently improved handling.
Relocating the steering box has also resulted in a better on-center feel. 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 allows the driver to select from three distinct steering settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
The shock absorbers on the torsion bar rear suspension have been turned vertically – they were positioned at an angle on the current Soul – and lengthened. This arrangement allows for more suspension travel, improving ride comfort.
Motivation for the Base Soul is delivered by a gasoline direct injection (GDI) 130-horsepower (at 6,300 rpm) 1.6-liter all-aluminum DOHC four-cylinder engine. The GAMMA engine produces 118 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. The Plus and Exclaim models enjoy the more powerful 2.0-liter NU power plant. For the all-new 2014 Soul, the engine is updated with GDI technology. Power is rated at 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 151 lb.-ft. of torque at a 4,000 rpm. Both engines have been tuned to provide more low-end torque (nine percent more torque at 1,500 rpm on the 2.0-liter; five percent more on 1.6-liter) for an improved around-town driving experience. The 1.6-liter engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or, optionally, to a six-speed automatic. The Plus and Exclaim models are available exclusively with the six-speed automatic.
Kia: One of the World’s Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands
Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time. With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry. Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand’s “Top 100 Best Global Brands,” and is poised to continue its momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013. Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company’s first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs. The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry’s largest segments has fueled Kia’s rapid growth and is complemented by Kia’s comprehensive lineup which includes the Cadenza flagship sedan, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Sportage compact CUV, Optima Hybrid, the Forte sedan, Forte5, and Forte Koup compacts, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and the Sedona minivan.
Source: Kia Motors