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2011-04-26 13:17

KOREAN DESIGN ICON: Kia’s soulful hatchback has received a mid-life styling and running gear upgrade.

Since its debut at the 2008 Paris auto show the Kia Soul has won many admirers for its stylish packaging of the traditional four-door hatchback concept.

It's one of Kia chief designer Peter Schreyer’s earlier works and debuted the now signature Tiger nose chromed surround detailing which has come to define most of Kia’s current product, including (in South Africa) the just-released Cerato hatch.

Changes have been kept to the minimum by Kia's designers for the Soul's 2011 facelift but includes some finessing of the car's illumination design - the most notable amendment.

LED daytime running lights (residing in new light clusters), a resurfaced bonnet and remoulded bumpers (front and rear) combine to tally the Kia Soul’s 2011 facelift.

The Soul’s infotainment system gains a reversing camera as part of the upgrade and, out of sight, Kia’s said to have added cabin insulation to improve sound deadening and render an even less intrusive driving experience.

DIRECT-INJECTION PETROL POWER

the new Kia Soul ALSO adds two new engine and transmission options to the range.

Kia’s 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine gains direct-injection and powers up to 101kW as a result (an improvement of 10kW), supported by 164Nm of torque (up 12Nm from the port-injected 1.6). According to Kia, fuel consumption averages to 7.5 litres/100km.

For Soul customers who require more urge, there's a tuned version of the two-litre four-cylinder capable of 117kW and 193Nm while returning 7.8 litres/100km during a combined urban/highway driving cycle.

SOUL WAGON: Styling changes are slight (there’s a reversing camera hiding around the back) but new transmissions are a welcome upgrade…

Fans of the Soul range will be pleased to note that two new six-speed transmissions (automatic and manual) replace the current five-speed manual and (rather) antiquated four-speed auto.

These new transmissions will go some way to addressing what was for many a mechanical annoyance of the funky Kia hatchback - the lack of overtaking punch at higher speeds and mechanical noise coefficient of the four-speed auto when cruising along briskly.

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