Five years after the Scion xB came out, a box car war is brewing with the debut of the production Kia Soul at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Nissan will also take part with the introduction of the U.S.-bound Cube next year. Kia calls the Soul an urban crossover vehicle, but it doesn't seem likely people will start talking about UCVs. The production Soul retains much of the styling, shown this summer at the British motor show. The D-pillar retains its width, and flows into the tapering roof cap. The rear hatch also uses an intriguing shape, although the narrow design looks like it might inhibit cargo access. Kia points out in a news release that the high seating and door design make access to the seats particularly easy. The interior picture released by Kia suggests that tech options will be minimal. A basic stereo with a CD slot sits above the HVAC controls. Its display does look bigger than most, but it is monochrome. similar to Ford's Sync by 2010, so the Soul might get this option.
European engine choices include a 1.6-liter four cylinder gasoline engine, producing 124 horsepower at 6,300rpm and 115 foot-pounds of torque at 4,200rpm, and a 1.6-liter four cylinder diesel that makes 124 horsepower at 4,000rpm and 188 foot-pounds of torque at 2,000rpm. The U.S. version will have a 2-liter gasoline engine producing 140 horsepower. The Soul goes on sale next February in Europe, and in spring in the U.S.
The Scion xB proved there is a market for this type of boxy car, and they do have very practical interiors. But are three boxes two many for the U.S.?