2009 Kia Soulster Concept

Tom Ludwick
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The 2009 Kia Soulster open-air concept debuted in Detroit this afternoon at a presentation that resembled a Beach Boys music video. With the Soulster, Kia is looking to bring back the two-door convertible SUV body style that it killed off when the first generation Sportage ceased to be in 2002.

Like the Soul that it's based on, the Soulster attempts to project a hip and youthful attitude. Unlike the production model, however, the concept seats one less person and has two doors instead of four. Other differences include unique 19-inch wheels, shimmering "Soul'r yellow" paint and LED headlamps. Its windshield and windows are low for a sporty appearance, and the roll bar serves double duty as a protection device as well as a place for the tracks of the soft top.

Despite its small size, Kia equipped Soulster to be a versatile hauler. Inside, the rear seats fold flat to fit objects both big and small. All seats are cantilevered to give a nifty floating appearance that also provides rear passengers with more leg room. Kia also gave Soulster storage compartments below the rear seats and under the cargo area to stow more gear.

If the Soulster makes it to production, it will likely carry over the Soul's engine offerings. The base engine would be a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 122 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The optional engine would be the 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 142 horsepower available with the manual or a four-speed auto.

While the 2010 Kia Soul goes on sale this spring, the company refused to say if the Soulster is coming to a beach near you. Kia did say that if the concept gets the green light it would be priced "with young buyers' budgets in mind," which we interpret to mean somewhere below $20K.

To read more about the 2009 Kia Soulster Concept, go to our 2009 Detroit auto show blogs coverage. All the latest blogs from the Editors of Automobile Magazine can be found HERE. We've got our whole staff wandering the floor at Cobo Hall bringing back live photos and more information about all the new debuts from Detroit.

For complete coverage of the 2009 Detroit auto show, click HERE.

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