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On sale since 2008, Kia's Soul has been a megahit since it first showed up in the US. Smart styling, generous standard equipment, a low price of entry and frequent updates have helped keep the compact in the sales limelight long after all of its box-shaped rivals faded.
For all its virtues, though, the Soul has always felt like it could use a power boost. For 2017, it's getting it in the form of this 1.6-liter turbocharged engine unveiled here at the Paris Motor Show. The engine generates 201 brake horsepower, a healthy increase over the 164 hp of today's up-engined model (and miles better than the 130-hp unit in base models). The direct-injected four-cylinder is backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which should quicken shift times and help fuel economy.
Even with a new drive mode selector, the 1.6-liter powertrain won't suddenly make the Soul a GTI-rivalling hot hatch on stilts, but the extra power will be welcome for quicker starts away from stoplights and for freeway overtaking. Kia says to expect 0-60 mph times of about 7.5 seconds, about a second quicker than today's naturally aspirated 2.0-liter model.
Visual callouts for the Turbo model include a model-specific front bumper and grille, as well as 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels and red-painted trim highlights. HID headlights with LED daytime running lamps are optional.
As was recently announced, the Soul's UVO infotainment system will also include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and additional Turbo-specific cabin tweaks include a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and unique cloth and leather seating surfaces with orange contrast stitching.
On the safety front, blind-spot assist with rear cross-traffic alert finally becomes available (front collision and lane-departure warning systems were already on offer). In addition, the Turbo is fitted with 12-inch vented front discs to improve stopping power and, chiefly, fade resistance.
There's no official word yet on when the Soul Turbo will be available in the US, but our sources advise that it's coming sooner rather than later.
Update, 10/3/16: Kia has informed Roadshow that it incorrectly stated the Soul Turbo's front-brake diameter in its initial press release. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.