Kia showed a funky little 2010 Soul-based concept (the Kia Soul'ster) at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Public response was so positive that it's rumored the South Korean automaker, who enjoyed a 3.5 percent sales increase in the U.S. market for January '09, is seriously considering production of the little car-based truck that looks quite a bit like the early 80s Subaru Brat.
Powertrains would presumably be similar to the 2010 Soul, which will debut with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and an optional 2.0-liter four-cylinder. We've got pictures of the 2010 Soul over in our Car Reviews section, and we'll be driving the funky little crossover - Kia's first - next month.
The folks at PickupTrucks.com describe the Soul'ster concept's layout as a "small-footprint, front-wheel drive two-door garden truck."
2009 Kia Soulster ConceptEnlarge Photo
Kia senior executive VP and chief designer Peter Schreyer told PickupTrucks.com that "we'd be very happy if we could built it." With him was Kia senior executive VP Tom Kearns. Weighing in with their own truck expertise, the folks at PickupTrucks.com report: "we think it's quite a nifty little truck."
Is the market ripe for such a vehicle? In a recent weekend junkyard sojourn with my dad who was looking for a replacement tailgate for his stalwart '98 Nissan Frontier pickup, I saw him look longingly at two VW Rabbit pickups from the early 80s.
source: Popular MechanicsEnlarge Photo
"What kinda mileage you think those got?" he asked, increasingly disappointed with his four-cylinder Nissan Frontier's low- to mid-20s mpg. I told him that with the 1.6 diesel, the VW earned mileage in the 30s (Popular Mechanics reports 32/35) due to a low center of gravity and a car-based, front-wheel drive layout (visit site mpgomatic for more historic details). Not to mention, the little truck was built in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
"Why in the heck doesn't somebody build one of those today," he inquired?
If you build it, Kia...
[source: PickupTrucks.com via Automotive News]