By Marc Lachapelle
Weeks only after launching the production version of the highly-promising, streetwise, urban-chic Soul compact at the Los Angeles auto show, Kia shows yet another concept variation on this theme in Detroit. Introduced as ‘soul-stirring’, the Soul’ster (get it?) is a fun-focused, two-door version of the Soul with most of its steel roof lopped off and replaced by solid-looking black roll bars.
Described by Kia US Chief designer Tom Kearns as “an efficient front-wheel drive car rather than an aggressive off-roader”, the bright yellow Soul’ster is dead-aimed at young buyers. In this spirit, it shuns ubiquitous power accessories and instead offers components such as a two-piece top that is removed using “elbow-grease technology” and visible window cranks that have been conspicuously turned into design features. There are storage bins below each of the fold-flat rear seats and additional compartments under the cargo floor at the rear.
Running on chunky, five-spoke, 19-inch alloy wheels, the Soul’ster could be powered by a variety of engines, according to the requirements of each market. These range from four-cylinder gasoline engines with displacements of either 1.6 or 2.0 litres to a 1.6-liter turbodiesel powerplant, mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic, in the case of the 140-horsepower 2.0-litre unit. No production plans were announced but designer Kearns sees “another category buster” in the Soul’ster.