SPY PICS: Kia Soul sharpens act

Quirky high-riding hatchback spotted in final stages of testing ahead of late-2013 release
The second-generation Kia Soul has been spied undergoing cold-weather testing, providing a sneak peek at some of the changes we'll see in the new model likely to arrive in Australia in early 2014.

Expected to make its public debut at the 2013 New York motor show in late March, the images show a fresh-faced Soul with new headlight assembly comprising projector beams and LED daytime running lights mounted above them.

The first Soul hit the road in 2008, and while its replacement appears here wearing a padded camo suit on the front and rear, the exposed roof and window line reveal similarly sharp edges to its predecessor.

New brake lights and mirrors can also be seen, but it's the Soul's front and rear end that are likely to see the biggest stylistic changes overseen by Kia's chief design officer, Peter Schreyer.

The Track'ster concept unveiled at last year's Chicago motor show was believed to provide further clues to the new Soul design, but based on the latest evidence that seems unlikely. As such, don't expect Kia to radically change the Soul's aesthetic.

The interior will benefit from a major refurb and it's likely the new high-riding hatchback will benefit from technology and specification upgrades.

Under the skin, the new Soul will run with petrol and diesel engines, likely to include Kia's 103kW 1.6-litre and 118kW 2.0-litre petrol engines. There's also a chance up-spec models could get the new direct-injected 2.0-litre petrol engine first seen on the new Cerato hatch, outputting 130kW/210Nm.

The 94kW 1.6-litre turbo-diesel motor could also return for active duty, making it Kia's only diesel-powered passenger car (not including SUVs). These engines will be matched with six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.

The second-gen Soul is expected to go on sale in the USA in the second half of 2013, followed by Australia around early-2014. In North America the funky hatch is popular with younger drivers, particularly students, while the typical Soul buyer Down Under is mature aged.

Despite just 27 of the unorthodox Soul finding Australian buyers last month, Kia Australia says it's committed to the model.

Published : Wednesday, 20 February 2013
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