The Quirky Kia Soul Design is Supposed to Look Like a Wild Boar With a Backpack

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Carmakers are always coming up with new ways to attract young buyers. So while cars are typically one of the most expensive purchases an individual will make, they have that in common with most other products.
Scion’s success in appealing to a younger audience inspired Kia to do the same, leading to the birth of the Kia Soul.
The first Soul debuted about a decade ago, accompanied by a viral marketing campaign that featured dancing hamsters.
The Kia Soul can easily be declared a success, as it is still in production today. Its origins may provide some insight as to why it became such a commercial success.
This is the story of the Kia Soul.
A red 2020 Kia Soul on a black road
The modern Kia Soul shows it becoming less and less “boar-ish” than the original

The Kia Soul, designed by Michael Torpey

It all started with Tom Kearns. Kearns is credited with the rebirth of Cadillac, according to the New York Times.
As part of Kia’s plan to design cars to attract young buyers, they decided to recruit out of Cadillac’s design department. Kearns saw the talent in Michael Torpey and recruited him to Kia.
Because Kia’s headquarters are in South Korea, Torpey would have to do most of the designs overseas. However, Torpey got to work before his plane landed in Seoul.
The designer had recently seen a nature documentary and became obsessed with boars. On the plane ride, he drew a few characters of this wild animal just for fun. On one sketch, he gave the boar a backpack.
After seeing the sketch, he knew this would be the prototype for the Kia Soul.

Designed around stability and strength

When thinking of the attributes of a wild boar, people think of strength and stability. Traits that would also be desirable for cars.
Instead of making another boring sedan, Torpey wanted to give the world a boar on wheels. The original Kia Soul debuted in 2006, and it’s easy to see how it was inspired by a boar.
The dynamic slopes around the car’s grille resembled a boar’s tusks, and the roofline had a slight back slope like a boar’s. The Soul also had a stance of strength, just like the boar.
The original Kia Soul had muscular-looking tires that measured close to 30 inches, almost half the height of the car.
With all these features, it’s clear that Torpey accomplished his goal of creating a vehicle that exemplified the same stability and strength of a wild boar.

Evolution of the Kia Soul

The first Kia Soul that debuted in 2006 was for an auto show and was just a concept car. While it generated a lot of buzz, it had to be tweaked so it could be mass-produced and comply with US regulations. It took about two years to reach the mass market.
Over the years, the Soul has become less boar-like and more box-like. While it is easy to see Torpey’s original design in modern Souls, a lot of the curves have been abandoned for dynamic angles.
The Soul seems to have inspired other designs in Kia’s lineup, specifically the Kia Carnival. While Kia has not confirmed this, it sure seems like Carnival looks like a stretched Soul.
While the Soul has gone over many iterations to stay relevant, it seems its EV version will be discontinued in the U.S. Kia has decided to focus on marketing the Niro as their main EV in the US, as reported by InsideEVs.com.
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