First of all, allow us to say that it is not at all certain that Kia's new mini MPV model will use the Soul name. However, the car which bears the codename YN, does share the same platform with the new Kia Soul as well as with the Hyundai i20. Set to take the fight to the Opel Meriva, Nissan Note and Honda Jazz when it's launched at the end of 2009, Kia's new little MPV will offer more space and practicality than its faux-crossover Soul sibling.
The prototype model's heavy camouflage does not allow us to see any exterior details other than the large panoramic roof, but it is apparent that Kia's mini MPV will be less flashy and funky than the Soul. Inside, as is evident from the scoop photos, the mini MPV uses the same three-gauge instrument panel and three-spoke steering wheel as the Soul, though the center console has been completely redesigned. Buyers should expect to find lots of clever folding seats and plenty of storage compartments.
Powertrain options will include 1.6-liter petrol and diesel engines, both producing an output of 126HP, while some markets will also get a 115HP 1.6-liter diesel and a 142HP 2.0-liter gasoline engine.
The new mini-MPV will be manufactured by Kia's sister brand Hyundai at the company's new factory at Nosovice in the Czech Republic, although Korean versions are likely to be built in Korea. Production of Hyundai's version of the mini-MPV, which will replace the Matrix, will start in the Czech factory by 2011.
Expect to see Kia's little minivan making its global premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2009.