NEW YORK - Kia has unveiled an all-new version of its Soul, the iconic urban crossover, at the 113th New York International Auto Show.The signature Soul design is instantly recognisable yet thoroughly fresh, its maker says, with more than a passing nod to the hot Track’ster concept that was unveiled in Chicago in 2012.ALL GROWN UP"It rides on a new chassis that is stiffer, longer and wider," Kia adds," and has grown up without losing its edge, allowing more passenger and luggage room while reducing noise, vibration and harshness."More torque and significant suspension upgrades make the 2014 Soul a nimble and agile companion in congested urban environments. Honouring Soul owners’ fierce individualism, three unique trim levels will be available when US sales start in the third quarter of 2013: Base, Plus and Exclaim."Release dates for mainland Europe and the UL (Read South Africa) have yet to be confirmed although the first half of 2014 is anticipated.Michael Sprague of Kia America's marketing division, told Wheels24: “When the Soul was introduced in 2009 everyone at Kia believed we had a hit on our hands but we didn’t realise how big that hit was going to be.“The Soul became one of our top-selling cars in the US and inspired the now-legendary hamster commercials. It was important that the all-new Soul remain true to the original design while infusing it with improved driving dynamics and desirable features to add appeal, sophistication and value."Kia’s California studio began putting virtual pen to virtual paper, engineers in the US and Korea focused on making Soul a joy to drive, starting with a solid foundation: the new body enjoys a 28.7% increase in torsional rigidity over the current Soul. DRIVING DYNAMICSThat, the automaker said, left three focus areas: maintaining the iconic design while adding modern cues; providing premium features and content; improving driving dynamics.When the Track’ster concept made Soul enthusiasts and pundits alike urged Kia to turn fantasy into reality. With 18 months from design freeze to production, the stage was set for the all-new Soul and many of the concept’s dramatic design cues can be found in the production vehicle.Tom Kearns, California's chief designer, compared the Track’ster to a bulldog. “The all-new Soul was one of our more difficult assignments. Striking the right balance between the wonderful design of the current car with the audacious proportions and stance of the Track’ster was daunting."It proved to be a truly collaborative effort with guidance from Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt and assistance from our studio in Korea. We’ve kept the essence of Soul while infusing it with more presence - inside and out.”DESIGN ELEMENTSThe upright stance, square shoulders and distinctive flared wings, Kia says, are instantly recognisable as Soul. Combining a 20mm longer (2570mm) wheelbase, width broadened to 1800mm (+15mm) but the same overall height of 1610mm "adds a more edge to the appearance".The wraparound greenhouse, high tail lights and tall ride height are hallmark design elements. "Premium touches such as available LED front positioning lights and rear LED halo lights," Kia adds, "help to connect the Soul to others in the Kia range, such as the Sorento SUV."Other enhancements include a wider (+61mm) boot aperture and new paint colours.Overall, Kia claims, the design team paid particular attention to instilling a more premium look and feel to the 2014 Soul’s cabin. "Liberal applications of soft-touch materials are found on the instrument panel, centre console and door panels," the automaker says, "Details such as (some versions) leather seats with improved lateral and thigh support, gloss piano-black trim and dash panels, add sophistication.The instrument panel is a triple cluster, the windows and door locks are power-operated.The steering-wheel mounted controls are housed in Soul-exclusive circular groups along the lower spokes with the buttons for the audio system and trip data computer falling readily to thumbs.Some versions with have a 20cm info touch-screen - "the largest yet on a Soul" for a telematics and infotainment system, UVO eServices and an Android-based operating platform.UVO eServices is optional and takes in-car connectivity and media interplay to the next level, integrating a number of other Kia firsts. Topping that list is the high-definition capacitive touch screen. Its wide viewing angle affords better visibility and allows the user to scroll with the stroke of a finger.Living side-by-side for the first time in a Kia vehicle, the audio/video and optional navigation controls are viewable on the home screen. Combining the most accessed ancillary controls on a single screen helps reduce driver distraction and improves overall functionality.BIGGER, BETTER CABINAn (optional) colour screen in the instrument binnacle will display turn-by-turn directions from the satnav - eyes forward!Driver and passengers will enjoy a larger cabin with increases in front leg room (1 090mm, 20mm more than the current Soul), rear leg room (up 5mm to 993mm), front headroom (increased 5mm to 1 006mm) and front seat shoulder room (up 7mm to 1 410mm). Overall cargo capacity is increased by 14 litres to 685 litres.The base version comes with a long list of features: electric windows, central locking, heated and electrically-operated mirrors, adjustable steering wheel and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit.The Soul Plus takes a step up in available optional amenities. Exterior mirror-mounted indicator repeaters, automatic headlights and unique trim on the front wings distinguish the Plus from the Base exterior. Inside, the Plus includes a floor console stowage box with integrated arm rest, colour reversing camera and rear seat centre arm rest. Options include navigation, an upgraded audio system, a panoramic sunroof – a Soul first – leather seating with segment-exclusive ventilated front driver and passenger seats and heated seats for all four positions.The Soul Exclaim adds to the Plus as standard features 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, body-colour bumper “tusks”, projection head lights, front diode positioning lights and rear LED “halo” lights.Open the door and it sports a high-gloss black centre console, cooled glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift knob and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.For the all-new 2014 Soul, the engine is updated with GDi technology with power rated at 122kW. The 1.6-litre engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or, optionally, to a six-speed automatic. The Plus model may be equipped with either transmission while the Exclaim is available exclusively with the six-speed automatic.