Kia Soul to be made in China to rival Suzuki SX4

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Shanghai, October 6 ( The eagerly awaited Kia Soul urban crossover passenger car was unveiled by Kia Motors at the 2008 Paris Motor Show on Thursday. The car is going on sale in South Korea and will be made in China in 2009 by Dongfeng Yueda Kia Auto to rival Suzuki Tianyu SX4-Sport, said the Beijing News today.

The Chinese-made Kia Soul is expected to hit the China market by the end of next year at a price about 100,000 yuan ($14,650) as an urban crossover hatchback to compete with Suzuki Tianyu SX4-Sport car, which was made by Changan Suzuki and went on sale in mid-June this year at 100,888 yuan. Only 300 units of the SX4-Sport model are available in the initial sales stage.

Based on a modified version of the Rio platform, the Soul measures 4,150 mm in length and has a wheelbase that is 2,550 mm long, although it is quite wide at 1,785 mm and rather short at 1,610 mm. Kia has kept the angled roof for its Soul and the wraparound style front windshield, an effect created by its thin, black-painted pillars. The Soul is boxier than conventional hatchbacks -- a refreshing design from Kia.

Kia has introduced three engines for the Soul, starting with a 1.6-litre inline four and a 2.0 L inline four, with the former expected to produce around 110-115 hp, and the latter in excess of 140 hp. The third engine is a 1.6 L turbo-diesel four-cylinder. Kia has no intentions of offering the Soul in an all-wheel-drive configuration.

The Kia Soul is going on sale in its home market of South Korea shortly after its global debut in Paris. The compact crossover will be made by Kia's joint venture in China in 2009 for sale in the Chinese market by the end of the year.

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