By Samuel Ee
Kia has upgraded its Soul compact urban crossover and the result is a five-door hatchback that is not only funky but also a bit more refined.
The facelifted Kia Soul has received a few cosmetic changes as well as a couple of significant modifications to its powertrain and chassis.
On the outside, the Soul gets a new front grille, projection headlamps with LED running lights, LED turn signals, and a new set of paintwork colours and seat fabric designs.
Under the sheet metal, the 1.6-litre engine now has dual CVVT or continuous variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust valves.
This upgrade from single CVVT for just the intake valves means it now pumps out six hp more hp to 130 hp.
The engine is also mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission from a four-speeder before. The extra ratios produce smoother gear changes and with the slightly higher power, the Soul now accelerates a little more quickly from zero to 100 kmh.
The century sprint is achieved in 11.6 seconds - a marginal improvement from 12.0 seconds previously.
Although that may not sound like much, this boxy Kia can come up with an adequately zippy response when required.
Still, the Soul is not a hot hatch but a lifestyle alternative. With its fun styling and spacious interior, the Korean carmaker has conceived the Soul as a stylish city crossover that is easy to drive and easier to use. In addition to keyless entry, the refreshed Soul gets an engine start button and a 3D-like Super-Vision instrument cluster with a trip computer.
The familiar Kia LED mood speakers also have a wider spectrum of changing colours, depending on the beat or personal preference.
For more colour, the dashboard and door panels come in three two-tone choices - red, beige and brown. All are paired with matching plaid seats. While the fabric may remind you of polyester, their tartan check patterns are nevertheless extremely cool. The Soul may not have a large footprint at 4,120 mm long with a 2,550 mm wheelbase. But because it is relatively tall at 1,610 mm, the cabin is incredibly roomy for a car its size.
|Price:$107,999 (with COE)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max Power: 130 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Max Torque: 157 Nm @ 4,850 rpm
0-100kmh: 11.6 secs
Top speed: 176 kmh
CO2 emissions: 173 g/km
Distributor: Distributor Cycle & Carriage Kia 6427 8888
There is excellent head and leg room all round and the best part is that access is easy because the seats of this crossover are slightly higher than in a normal hatchback. Ride comfort has also increased. The previous Soul's suspension consisting of front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam was set up for a sporty drive.
But it has been retuned with new dampers for a softer experience.
With its distinctive exterior styling and colourful modern interior, the Kia Soul is ultimate the yuppie accessory. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in The Business Times.