Fun isn’t something many people are having in the car business right now but the optimists at Kia say fun is the key element in the Soul’ster concept they unveiled at the Detroit motor show this week
It’s based on the new urban crossover Kia Soul which comes to New Zealand this year, and is a mix of convertible and pick-up truck created by taking away the five-door’s upper rear bodywork to make a load tray.
It’s a type of vehicle unfamiliar outside America, but Cadillac markets a similar but much bigger vehicle based on its massive Escalade SUV, and Subaru USA has marketed similar takes on its Outback wagon.
We can agree with Kia NZ general manager, Todd McDonald, that the Soul’ster looks fun and funky but we have to stop short of agreeing with the Korean make’s description of the vehicle as a sports car.
The Soul’ster retains two of the Soul’s five doors and replaces the rear cabin with a pick-up tray that includes seats.
Two large side struts stiffen the body and reinforce the mini-truck look and a two-piece soft-top allows front and rear seating areas.
The windscreen is lowered, and lights create an amber glow under the headlights that Kia reckons gives the car a “devilish look at night.”
The side vents, mirror-mounted turn signals, unique LED headlights, fog- and tail-lights incorporate blue shades.
The non-floor-mounted cantilevered seats give an illusion of being suspended in space when viewed from the side.
They allow for increased rear passenger legroom, and there are storage compartments below each of the fold-flat rear seats. When the rear seats are folded the cargo space resembles a pick-up’s.
Kia Motors America chief designer, Tom Kearns, insists the Soul’ster offers something “intriguing and relevant to today’s buyers – a fun, affordable convertible for active people who like to share good times with friends.”
Will Kia build a production version? Who knows, though given the current economic situation not too many buyers are in the mood for fun and frivolity.