Ever since the Kia Soul was introduced, North American critics have been complaining about the lack of power that perhaps should be at the, well, soul of a funky looking vehicle such as it is. That may be about to change. Or they may have more to gripe about …
At the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, Kia will reportedly be taking the wraps off a slightly refreshed Soul, as it has been since a couple times since 2008, along with the introduction of a new engine — a 200-hp turbocharged iteration of the 1.6-litre direct injected 4-cylinder introduced to the crossover in 2013.
It will be ready for the 2017 calendar year, ready to hit European roads by the end of the 2016. The thing is that it hasn’t been introduced for North America, though speculation is that Kia is waiting to make that announcement at the LA Auto Show about a month and a half later.
The new 1.6-litre turbo direct-injected engine (T-GDI, for short) makes 201 hp and will be paired with the 7-speed dual clutch automatic (which was also introduced in the model make-over of 2013). Kia claims 0-100 km/h times of about 7.5 seconds, and a top speed of 197 km/h. It also comes with a new drive mode selector (as will other models equipped with the 7-speed DCT), that allows the driver to choose between Normal, Sport and Eco modes — you can pretty much tell from the designations what each does to the performance of the vehicle.
The Soul looks slightly altered front, back and centre, with a bolder front bumper and air intake design. dual tailpipes at the rear, and unique 10-spoke 18-inch aluminum wheels around the side (which house 17-inch brake rotors up front that help bring the Soul down to a standstill from 100 km/h in about 35.3 metres). Red trim highlights at the front bumper and the sidesills point to the enriched Soul.
New safety and infotainment upgrades are also on tap for the model going forward, in a unique cabin colour scheme (orange-trimmed black appointments and upholstery). A choice of colour touchscreens provide smartphone like control over vehicle functions such as the navigation system, audio playback and heating/ventilation. The screen also displays the rearview camera.
The car can also connect to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and rearseat passengers get their own USB port so they can plug in their devices to recharge.
Driving aids include new rain-sensing wipers, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.