When current head designer Peter Schreyer got to Kia in 2007, it was said the only thing he changed to the then-upcoming Kia Soul was to add the tabbed grille now found on all Kia models.
But now that he has the reigns to the company’s design, he looks to change the model entirely, as it is expected to debut an all-new model next year.
That’s right, after debuting a heavily upgraded Kia Soul for the 2012 model year, the Korean automaker should be dropping a new one on us soon, likely as a 2014 or 2015 model. For a car company, that’s a lightning-quick turnaround for a new product.
So what can we expect?
The current Kia Soul is based off a subcompact platform that it shares with overseas models; don’t expect it to grow too much. The last time a box car did that for the U.S. market—the Scion xB—its sales plummeted. Don’t expect Kia to make the same mistake; the Korean automaker has hit a sweet spot with the Soul, taking 2011 in as the best-selling subcompact vehicle, if you don’t count that honor going to the more conventional Nissan Versa.
But it will likely have more powerful, possibly turbocharged engines. The current Soul employs two engines: a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder shared with the Kia Rio that achieves 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway and a 2.0-liter engine with 164 horsepower that trades a mile per gallon in the city and on the highway for the added oomph. We expect its next engines to be no less powerful. Whatever uprated engine option the Kia Soul receives will likely be featured in the 2014 Kia Forte compact sedan set to be debuted later this year.
The Soul will likely become more aggressive design-wise, indicated by the Kia Track’ster concept that debut at February’s Chicago Auto Show from which it should draw inspiration. The Track’ster featured a 247-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, indicating a high-performance variant may not be out of the question for the brand that has touted having a sporty side. But unlike the concept, it probably won’t have a three-door layout. Kia has a three-door Rio it doesn’t sell in the U.S.; if that didn’t make it over here, a compromised Soul seems even less likely.
Later this year, the 2013 Kia Soul will add idle stop and go (ISG) to its arsenal of options, which will turn off the ignition at stops to save gas and help it achieve better real-world fuel economy. And over the next year, Kia will begin phasing in its next-generation version of UVO with built-in telematics services. We expect both will come in the future Kia Soul.
While all of this comes from our very best educated guesses, there’s one thing Kia has confirmed: The Soul’s hamster mascots are making a comeback. Keep on party rocking, Kia.