TopGear.com03 April 2013

The new Kia Soul is quite new

Hamsterish mini-MPV-thing gets completely redesigned to look exactly the same

When a company entirely reengineers a car, it tends to make said entirely reengineered car look pretty different to its previous incarnation - y'know, to highlight the whole ‘entirely reengineered' thing. But Kia, ever prepared the buck the conventions of car design and punctuation, has just entirely reengineered its Soul, then redesigned it to look... almost exactly the same.

Honestly, this thing is pretty much all-new. The updated Soul sits on a wheebase 20mm longer, is 15mm wider and - thanks to a chunk more high-tensile steel - is 29 per cent torsionally stiffer than the old model.

Kia promises it'll drive better, too, with retuned suspension front and rear, plus new bushings on the front subframe. There's more space inside, plus a bunch of fresh tech including an eight-inch touchscreen and new infotainment gubbins incorporating something called ‘Pandora', which we're assured is an internet radio service rather than a glovebox containing all the evils in the world.

In fairness, the new Soul does look a bit different to the outgoing model, but perhaps not quite so different as Kia believes. "If you think about droplets falling into a still pond, you begin to visualize the inspiration for the all-new Soul's design," says its designer Tony Kearns. Hmm. "The design is organic, like the human body." Hmmnn.

Still no word on a hot version (oh god, it'll be the pro_Soul, won't it?), with Kia so far announcing only an entirely sensible 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 164bhp 2.0-litre diesel.

If you're liking the quite-familiar looks of the new Soul... tough. It's not coming to the UK until 2014, with the US getting the car long before us.

On the plus side, at least those cursed hamsters seem to have vanished...

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