Los Angeles - The curtain has been raised. Kia’s all-new Soul has broken cover at the Los Angeles Auto Show and it’s packing an arsenal of technology at the upper end of its (American) range.

The Soul’s quirky (perhaps controversial to some) styling has been amplified, now offering new high-tech LED headlights with daytime running lights and integrated indicators. It also sports an enlarged front grille design up front and 3D-look wrap-around tail lights. Interestingly, Kia insists that the new Soul’s C-pillar has been designed to resemble an airplane’s wings, while that same pillar comes will a ‘Soul’ garnish, just in case you forget what model you’re driving while approaching the car.

Although the Soul hasn’t garnered the kind of following in South Africa as it has in the 'States, the crossover has been thoroughly revised both inside and out to appeal a broader audience. 

And, because music has been an overarching theme for Soul since its inception, for this third generation, Kia’s designers and engineers have designed the interior with shapes and textures that reflect 'acoustic-inspired elements' - to create a full sensory experience, they say. 

Key contributors to this sensory experience include ‘sound mood lighting’ that emits soft light from the door panels. The mood lighting can also synchronise and flash to the beat of the music playing through the Soul’s audio system. Moods that you can select from include: Hey! Yo!, Party Time, Traveling, Romance, Midnight City, and Cafe.

On the tech side, Kia says it’s long-recognised that one’s car is an integral part of their social life. To this end, the new Soul comes with a 26cm high definition color touchscreen with split screen function (standard on EX and GT-Line turbo). These models also come with a rear view monitor and parking guidance system.

High end models also receive Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility and Bluetooth Multi-Connection (where two Bluetooth devices can be connected at the same time. Nice!). Audiophiles can rejoice as the new Soul can also be optioned up with a Harman Kardon audio system boasting a standalone amplifier, 10 speakers including tuned center speaker, and compact subwoofer.

To ensure that there really is a Soul for all types of drivers (at least in the USA for now), the Soul will be marketed in LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, EX Designer Collection – plus the all-new EV version (electric).

In terms of dimensions, the new Soul has grown in length by 56mm to 4196mm. Its wheelbase is also lengthened by 30mm to 2601mm. Width and height remain unchanged, however the extended wheelbase and slightly larger length ensures more legroom and improved cargo carrying capacity.

Turbo power available

What motivates the Soul? Well, the Americans are getting a naturally-aspirated 2-litre four-cylinder engine with six-speed manual transmission or Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), Kia’s fancy way of calling a CVT gearbox something else. This engine is rated for 110kW and 178Nm. Sportier drivers will however prefer the 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder, direct-injection engine with 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. You get a GTI chasing 147kW and 265Nm here.

Naturally, Kia says that the Soul’s all-new platform delivers a more refined experience behind the wheel and on the road, as engineers worked on the suspension geometry to help reduce noise, vibration and harshness, while also improving handling and comfort in a variety of conditions.

To keep things on the straight and narrow, the new Kia Soul is offered with safety technologies and driver aids such as Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Changing Assist, Blind-spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control and High Beam Assist.

For the time being, the new Soul will only be built in left-hand drive format, which rules out local introduction.

Drive360