The vehicle to make you rethink the use of autonomous technology

Like it or not, self-driving cars are coming, and they are coming fast. If you have fear of giving up the steering wheel, I feel you, as I don’t fancy the idea of giving up control either. Some automakers are pushing to allow a choice in the matter, while other manufacturers like Kia believe that cars of the future will be completely void of a steering wheel. But, what if there was a fair trade off that could make you forget that you hate the idea so much? Take the Kia Soul First Class concept that Kia built specifically for the 2016 SEMA show. This concept takes autonomous technology and mixes it with first class luxury in ways you’ve never seen before. And, outside of actually offering level-five autonomy, the concept is full of technology that could be used in new cars today. Highlights include rear facing front seats, a massive rear view screen, in-floor leg rests, and a cabin that is so inviting that you’ll start to rethink your stance on trusting AI to safely drive you from one destination to the other.

The funky little SUV that is so unique in an overcrowded segment has only been around since 2008 when it debuted at the Paris Motor Show. It evolved into a second generation model for the 2014 model year which brought a more balanced, modern look through the means of strategic nips and tucks here and there. Things like the grille, air dam, and fog lights were all revised while its width increased by 0.6 inches and the wheelbase was extended by 0.8 inches. The interior also went through a strategic redesign that brought new, soft-touch materials and a more premium feel over the outgoing model. The second-gen model that the First Class Soul is based on is set to be facelifted for the 2018 model year, but until then, sink your eyes into what the future of Kia looks like in our full review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Soul First Class.

Exterior

Unlike the Sorento Ski Gondola or the Niro Triathlon concepts, there isn’t a ton of exterior work put into place with this concept. This concept was more about functionality, comfort, interior ambiance, and peering into a future where you actually have a good reason to like the idea of letting cars to the legwork of getting you from point A to point B. But, the exterior isn’t exactly void of any modifications, they are just far and few between.

The exterior isn’t exactly void of any modifications, they are just far and few between.

Kia tapped into the talented crew over at LUX Motorwerks to create a true one-of-a-kind but highly feasible vision of the future. The guys over at LUX started by giving this Soul a LUX Electric Blue finish from top to bottom. Once the paintwork was finished, the upper and lower grilles were equipped with blue LED lights that give off a mysterious blue glow. Next on the list is a brand new set of Rotiform Monoblock CCV 19-inch wheels that are wrapped in Continental all-season tires.

The Kia emblems on the exterior also get a LUX Electric Blue background with black “Kia” lettering while the headlights get LUX Electric Blue accents. In the rear, the reflectors were removed from the rear bumper, as was the “Soul” emblem on the rear hatch. As I said it’s not really much in the way of modifications, but wait until you see what LUX Motorwerks did inside!

Interior

When Kia named this concept the “First Class Soul,” it hit the nail right on the head. In fact, the interior is so luxurious that if you had never seen the interior before and were placed inside the First Class with a blindfold on, you would probably think you were in a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. I’m not kidding, folks; this thing is insane as far as amenities and luxury go. To start off, the guys over at LUX ripped just about everything out of the cabin and started from a nearly clean canvass. The rear seats are gone forever, while the rear seats now face the back of the vehicle. A new center console was installed between the two seats. Each passenger gets his own tablet device that is motorized and extends outward and rotates into place automatically. These tablets are used to control and monitor every aspect of the vehicle.

The interior is so luxurious that if you had never seen the interior before and were placed inside the First Class with a blindfold on, you would probably think you were in a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce.

The seats are wrapped in quilted gray leather with diamond stitching that also match the center inserts in each new door panel. The rest of the cabin has been wrapped in gray leather as well while the floor has been equipped with modern gray wood to give the ultimate feel of luxury and class. Just ahead of the seats in the floor are a pair of automated foot and leg rests that elevate from the floor on command so that you can kick back and relax on your way to your next destination. In the rear of the First Class, you’ll find a custom entertainment center installed to the floor that has a Mac Mini computer resting right in the middle. Just above that, there’s a huge, 40-inch, Samsung LED TV that you can use to browse the internet, watch TV, or work, if you really felt like working in this environment. Sound is delivered through a premium sound system.

Drivetrain

2014 Kia Soul High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 539365

Note: Standard Kia Soul drivetrain shown here.

Motivation comes from a 1.6-liter, all-aluminum, four-banger that delivers 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque.

Outside of the wheels and tires on the outside, there are no drivetrain or chassis upgrades to speak of. We don’t know which exact model the First Class Soul is based on, but if LUX and Kia went with the entry-level model, motivation comes from a 1.6-liter, all-aluminum, four-banger that delivers 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. High models offer 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet from a 2.0-liter four-banger. Then again, given the futuristic nature of this concept, the Kia Soul EV could have been used as a canvass, which would mean motivation comes from an electric motor that delivers 109 horsepower and 2010 pound-feet of torque. This system uses a 27 kWh, air-cooled battery that delivers an EPA-estimated range of 93 miles on a single charge. It should be noted, however, that if the First Class was created from the Soul EV, then LUX Motorwerks removed the grille insert and replaced the front fascia with one from a fuel-powered model, as the EV is a little different up front in comparison.

Conclusion

2016 Kia Soul First Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 694197

As you can see, this is the most luxurious Soul that has ever been created. But, more importantly, it gives us a unique view into what we can expect from Kia in the future when Self-Driving cars are common place. While it is void of a steering wheel, leaving little room for human control, the features inside are enough to at least consider giving self-driving cars a chance. After all, if you have to give up the fun that is driving, at least you can have an amazing cabin with enough features to keep your mind off the fact that you’re putting your life in the hands of artificial intelligence. I’m not one who is looking forward to the day that governments ban driving yourself, but I’d be willing to take a ride in this thing and give it a chance.

  • Leave it
    • * Still not ready to give up the steering wheel
    • * A single, large entry door on each side would make entry easier
    • * Would be expensive in production form

Press Release

The Soul First Class is an upscale inter-city chariot that lets business travelers work and relax as they journey to out-of-town meetings and destinations. This self-driving custom-built creation from LUX Motorwerks – with its rear-facing seats, absence of steering wheel and wide array of luxury enhancements – is about optimizing work and rest amid the hectic schedule in one’s professional life.

2016 Kia Soul First Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 694189

Eliminating the need for a driver, the Soul First Class has a revamped front dash which now houses two rear-facing front seats. The Soul’s passengers are then greeted by a 40-inch Samsung LED TV connected to a Mac mini computer system and premium audio speakers throughout. A custom motorized center console reveals two tablets, which control this futuristic Kia. To match the first-class electronic system is first-class comfort with white and gray leather with diamond stitching throughout the cabin, and modern gray wood flooring to match.

2016 Kia Soul First Class High Resolution Interior
- image 694193

The Soul’s exterior brings about the same level of luxury as the interior with PPG Lux Blue paint and modified upper and lower grilles with LED lighting. The 19-inch Rotiform Monoblock CCV wheels bring a modern vibe to the car’s exterior and round out the complete autonomous vehicle inspired overhaul.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: