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Next-Gen Kia Soul Searching

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On: Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 4:53PM | By: Chris Salamone

Next-Gen Kia Soul Searching

The search is on. Reuters reports that a Kia executive dropped a Soul bomb during last Friday’s earnings conference. The Soul, Kia’s second-best selling model in the first half of 2012, will receive a model update sometime next year – most likely as a 2014 or 2015 entry.

And although a Kia spokesperson refused to comment on the possibility of a new Soul to Automobile, our chances are still good for a Soul update. Ever since the Soul came onto the US auto scene in 2009, sales have steadily increased each year. But the vehicle’s modernistic, box-shaped design aesthetic has nevertheless remained stagnant.

The timing is ripe for a Soul reboot.

If we’ve learned anything from Honda’s recently deceased Element, Kia has to be especially careful when redesigning a trendy people mover. The Element’s urbanistic makeover, which fundamentally changed the vehicle’s intended consumer audience, caused sales to plummet. Kia will need to think long and hard about finding new customers, but also about the Soul’s current fan base. Finding new buyers is equally as important as keeping old ones.

Otherwise, little and less is known about what a new Soul might look like. Automobile speculates that “[a] new Soul might adopt the so-called ‘tiger’ front grille that has made an appearance on new Kia models like the Rio and Optima.”

Maintaining the Kia brand image makes good sense, of course. But the Soul is a completely different animal than Kia’s Rio and Optima – and let’s not forget that the current Soul already has a pretty similar front grille to the Rio and Optima.

Taking into consideration the boxy account of Honda’s failed Element update, it seems likely that Kia will have to shape the next-generation Soul into a more modern version of itself without pushing the Soul too far onto either side of the spectrum – funky or practical. Meaning, a new Soul can’t be too funky or too practical without alienating denizens of adoring fans.

Such is the age old struggle of vehicles characterized as retro. An update might end up ruining the very same traits which make the Soul currently popular.

To ride the fine line, Kia will likely push for modest changes to the Soul which refine, both, the company’s brand image and the current Soul’s…well…soul.

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