New Kia Soul is a mean box on wheels
Korea's quirkiest car is back and better than ever at the LA Auto Show
I like boxy cars, which means I've always loved the Kia Soul. It's zany and different and – thanks to those square dimensions – a joy to load-up with luggage and groceries and stuff. Yep, it's no secret that cars designed with a ruler are easier to fill with all the material trappings of life. If you want further proof of this just revisit the original Mini and the Daihatsu Materia – a car that proved it was hip to be square. Anyway, I digress.
The 2018 LA Auto Show is in full flight and one of the standout cars to make its unveiling is the new third-generation Kia Soul. An evolution of its second-generation predecessor, Soul version 3.0 comes served with an extra shot of visual aggression. Particularly up front where a massive radiator grille and a pair of narrow, squinting headlights dominate proceedings. The silhouette is classic soul while the rear has been jazzed-up with some swooping boomerang-esque tail lights. Haters will continue to hate but I think the new Soul looks awesome. It's a great big slab of rolling quirk that's the perfect antidote to cars like the Nissan Qashqai et al.
Revised looks aside, the third-generation Soul now rides upon a brand new platform that promises more in the way of driving refinement. Engine wise there are two four-cylinder motors to choose from: a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre good for 110kW plus a more advanced turbocharged 1.6-litre unit that makes a useful 150kW. While the turbo engine only comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the naturally-aspirated motor can be had with either a six-speed manual or CVT.
The interior has been worked over and can be customised with everything from a 640-watt Harman/Kardon sound system to mood lighting equipped with no less than six moods. Bluetooth audio streaming is standard and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported. There's also wireless charging and dual-zone climate control. Trim lines? You're looking at six – LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX, “EX Designer Collection” – plus an all-new Soul EV that probably won't be making its way to South Africa anytime soon. Fortunately the petrol-powered models will be landing here in 2019. I look forward to it.