2010 Kia Soul Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery As far back as 2005, Kia tasked itself with becoming Korea's sporty automaker, leaving parent Hyundai to become a more affordable luxury brand. Then-chief operating officer Len Hunt admitted that while Kia's value proposition was clear, its products largely failed to connect with buyers on an emotional level – the company's models were purchased based on price, warranty and little else. Since that time, Kia has steadily introduced a slew of greatly improved products, but nothing remotely "sporty" has hit showroom floors. Sure, there have been a few promising-looking concepts, 2007's Kee and Kue, along with 2008's Koup... but while the company has been creating one-off showcars, Hyundai has grabbed eyeballs, market share, and more than a few magazine covers by delivering both upmarket and sporty vehicles, namely the Genesis Sedan and Coupe. And yet, here we find ourselves in Miami, ready to drive Kia's latest and greatest, the 2010 Soul. Is this where the "sporty" kicks in? At first blush, things aren't promising – the Soul is front-drive, modestly powered, tallish, and squared-off in an economy-car-tall-wagon-crossover-looking sort of way. None of which is pushing any "sporty" buttons for us. Did we miss a new, possibly ironic meaning for the word? Follow the jump to find out... %Gallery-47884% Photos copyright ©2009 Chris Paukert / Weblogs, Inc. Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer. Well, hang on a second. Those are rather chunky and handsome alloys on our Sport model. 18-inchers from the looks of it. Come to think of it, that stance is surprisingly wide, with what appears to be a broader track than anything that might reasonably be called a competitor. And now that you mention it, for a box, the Soul is pretty funky looking – check out that tapered greenhouse and cantilevered roof. For a small car, this thing has gobs of character. Of course, it's exactly the sort of character that results in club kids conjuring up their own implausibly colored, structurally unstable haircuts... but that's what passes for style these days, right? Most people will probably find the Soul either irrepressibly cool or simply fail to "get" its style altogether – there's no middle ground to be had. Quite literally, this is by design – Kia has architected its Soul to elicit the same strong love/hate emotions that went on to fuel blockbusters like the Chrysler 300 and the original Scion xB. Us? We happen to love it. To our eyes, it has far more originality and panache than competitors like the Honda Fit, Chevrolet HHR and Toyota Matrix, not to mention Scion's xB and xD. While perhaps not quite as quirky as the new Nissan Cube, the Soul ultimately strikes a more balanced, tougher look that will appeal to more people. Inner Soul Step inside, and oh, my... there's that club kid again. Funky shapes, patterns and retina-flambéeing colored plastic abounds inside. But hang on a …
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|MPG||26 City / 31 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd man w/OD|
|Power||122 @ 6300 rpm|
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