The second-generation Kia Soul has arrived in New Zealand with an expanded choice which includes a 2.0-litre flagship model, an increased specification level and more competitive pricing.
A $29,990 starting price is $500 below the previous model and includes three years or 45,000km free servicing, transferable to a subsequent owner.
Built on an all-new platform - which is shared with the latest Cerato family - the all-new Soul design has been inspired by the Kia Trackster concept vehicle.
The new Soul was created at Kia's American Design Centre in California and the exterior similarities between Trackster and new Soul are easy to spot.
The large trapezoidal lower air intake is nearly a direct carryover from the concept and the location of the fog lights - down low and pushed to the leading edges - mirrors those on the Trackster. The "backpack" tailgate is another design cue lifted from the Trackster.
While none of the exterior body panels are carried over from the original Soul, the upright stance, squared shoulders, wraparound greenhouse, high-mounted tail lights and confidence-inspiring ride height are all hallmark design elements from the first-generation model.
The new Soul has slightly larger dimensions with the length up by 20mm (4140mm), width by 15mm (1800mm) while height drops 41mm (down to 1619mm), which makes it easier to get in and out.
The new dimensions and the extended wheelbase (up by 20mm to 2570mm) have improved the vehicle's practicality, with more space for people and cargo, plus the tailgate opening is now 62mm wider (1005mm), providing easier access to the cargo bay.
The Soul is much stronger than before, with 66 per cent ultra-high strength or high strength steel used in its structure, plus stronger connections along the cowl, B-pillars and between the C-pillars.
These measures result in a 29 per cent increase in torsional rigidity, benefitting the steering, handling and ride, as well as refinement.
It's also quieter, thanks to detailed changes to the suspension and increased use of sound-deadening materials and noise isolation technology.
The outgoing Soul was available with a 1.6-litre engine which continues with 95kW output while a 115kW 2.0-litre option has been added to the range, providing extra performance.
Also, there are now two levels of specification with the 1.6-litre engine offered in EX and SX grades and a top-of-the- range 2.0-litre SX variant.
The six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models and also providing specification highlights on all models are a low tyre pressure warning system, LED daytime running lights and Kia's Flex Steer system which offers three levels of steering assistance.
The Soul EX features air-conditioning, cruise control, smart key and push-button start, power windows, remote locking with alarm, premium audio with Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors and 17-inch alloy wheels with a $29,990 pricetag.
The SX gets premium upholstery, climate control air-conditioning, a chilled glovebox, eight-way power driver's seat adjustment, heated and ventilated front seats, front and rear parking sensors with camera, rear privacy glass, supervision instrument cluster and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Kia Soul SX pricing is $33,490 for the 1.6-litre engine and $35,490 for the 2.0-litre unit.