What it Is
Kia Soul Concepts Preview – 2008 Geneva Auto Show: This is a three-fer. Kia’s Soul crossover is one of the worst kept automotive secrets out there: we know it’s coming, and thanks to “concepts” like the three shown in Geneva, we have a great idea of what it looks like, too. Kia is also clearly enjoying the name it’s given its little crossover. The three concepts are all plays on words: Soul Diva, Soul Burner and Soul Searcher. Each one has been tailored to different buyer types, and gives us a hint at who the Soul will be aimed.
Why it Matters
As the crossover market expands, we will continue to see it further segmented, with manufacturers coming up with unique products to suit the needs of buyers with unique tastes. The Soul has the potential to be one of these, a riff on Toyota’s Scion line, but with a funkier shape and no spinoff brand to complicate things.
Kia says the Soul Diva is a fashion accessory for “a style-concious young-at-heart woman,” for whom a car is as important as her outfit. The white exterior is accented with chrome and gold, and looks a little like a giant customized iPod. The black, white and gold interior is styled to look like a hip lounge, with quilted imitation leather on the seats, and long-pile “pony hide” carpet that, according to Kia, “simply begs to be stroked.”
The Soul Burner is the Soul Diva’s moody boyfriend. Matte black with glossy black dragon “tattoos,” (seriously, that’s what Kia calls them) on the flanks, Kia says the Soul Burner is designed to appeal to “bad boys.” The wheels, grille and headlights are accented with red, and the stance is lowered just a bit. Inside are four sport seats, and the cabin is divided horizontally. Above the split, the interior is finished in red; below, it’s all black.
The Soul Searcher is the moody sophisticate of the group. While the Diva’s sipping an apple martini, and the Burner’s shotgunning a beer, the Searcher is contemplating a 30-year-old French Pinot Noir while discussing the finer points of Nietzsche. The exterior is a muted off-white with subtle metal accents, and the interior is much the same, with gray-beige felt applied to the floor and seats. Kia says it is meant to “provide a haven of tranquility within the urban jungle.” We couldn’t make this stuff up if we wanted to.
What Kia Says
Kia is very excited about its Soul concepts. According to Gregory Guillaume, chief designer of Kia Motors Europe, “The all-new Kia production car will appeal especially to the young-at-heart – whatever their age! It will defy classification and encourage customers to build an emotional bond with their new car by providing a creative platform that they can customize to match their own character.” Exclamation points! They’re infectious!
What We Think
OK, you may have guessed that we think the concept theme is a little goofy. However, the Soul itself is shaping up to be a nifty little box on wheels. The final shape is close to the concept that debuted a couple years ago, and we look forward to seeing the final production version, sans attitude.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Kia