Kia's Soul Sisters

March 6, 2008

Soul Sisters

Just the basic thought of a budget hatchback is enough to put most people to sleep. They’re products you buy because you need to from Point A to Point B on a budget. So there’s reason to cheer Kia’s aim of putting a little Seoul, er Soul, into the somnambulant segment.

The automaker’s offerings at this year’s Geneva Motor Show included three different takes on the concept, starting with the Soul Burner, above, with its striking graphite black paint job emblazoned with what can only be called “tribal” graphics. Like its sibling show cars, the Burner is a clear attempt by Kia to go after the Scion set, young buyers willing to pay a wee premium for a little more soul.

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Soul Diva’s take is to go with what the Korean maker describes as “super model looks,” with an elegant white body offset by contrasting gold roof rails and door trim. The 19-inch, gold trimmed alloy wheels add to the mood.

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As the name is clearly meant to imply, the most introspective of the three designs is Kia’s Soul Searcher, which opts for muted colors and soft textures.

There must be something in the Korean water, because Kia’s isn’t the first of the country’s design centers to roll out three competing designs on the small car theme. General Motors, little more than a year ago, introduced its “Triplets,” which aim for the same, youthful market segment. Like GM, Kia is expected to eventually settle on one of the designs for market, perhaps “later this year,” according to Kwang-Ho Nam, president of Kia Motors Europe. With Henny Hemmes.

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