A range of upgrades to the latest Kia Soul SUV include the introduction of a 201 bhp 1.6-litre engine.
The new 1.6 T-GDI becomes the most powerful Soul yet, with the turbo engine borrowed from the Kia cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds, with a top speed of 122 mph. CO2 emissions are 156 g/km.
The engine sends its power to the front wheels through Kia’s new seven-speed double-clutch transmission (7DCT), providing instant gear changes at any speed. A new Drive Mode Selector – available across the Soul range on models equipped with the 7DCT – lets Soul T-GDI drivers switch between Normal, Eco and Sport modes, each adapting the level of steering assistance available, to allow for normal, light or heavy steering depending on driver preference and driving conditions.
The 1.6 T-GDI Soul is differentiated by a series of exterior modifications; including a bolder front bumper and air intake grille design, twin exhaust pipes at the rear, and its own 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheel design. Completing the sportier appearance are red highlights to the front bumper and side sills.
Kia has also made changes to the interior, with the powerful new model finished in its own cabin colour scheme - with black cloth and leather upholstery paired with orange stitching. This is joined by a D-shaped steering wheel and orange highlights throughout the cabin, including orange metal paint on the gearstick.
Available with larger brakes than the standard Soul, the SUV is fitted with 17” ventilated front discs, with the revised brakes reducing the stopping distance of the Turbo model slightly, to 35.3 metres when stopping from 60 mph (down from 35.5 metres). Kia says the changes have been primarily made to ensure fade-free braking power under consistent use.
Kia has upgrade the Soul range as a whole to further enhance its appeal among buyers. These include updates to its exterior appearance, with remodelled front and rear bumpers with a metallic skid plate for a more robust appearance. The Soul’s front bumper can house optional bi-function HID (high-intensity discharge) headlights with LED daytime running lights, while there is also an updated finish to Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille. The rear of the car features newly-designed fog lamps and reflectors for greater illumination for following road users. A gloss black finish to front and rear wheel arches and a body kit for front and rear bumpers and side sills on selected models emphasise the car’s compact SUV credentials.
The cabin has also been refreshed with the introduction of new gloss black and metallic highlights and switchgear. New technologies have been added, with buyers able to choose from Kia’s latest 5.0-, 7.0- or 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment HMI (human-machine interface). The new HMI systems provides smartphone-style touchscreen control over the audio-visual navigation system, and is available with Apple CarPlay (for iPhone 5 or newer) and Android Auto (for Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer) for full smartphone integration.
The new HMI systems also houses a rear-view parking camera, and a new USB port has been added to the rear of the cabin, allowing back-seat passengers to charge mobile devices on the move. Safety is also improved in the Soul with the adoption of Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) for the first time, giving drivers better all-round visibility on motorways and during low-speed parking manoeuvres.
The upgraded Kia Soul and the new Soul 1.6 T-GDI will be available in late 2016 following its unveiling in Paris, with full UK specification and pricing to be released at launch.