The Kia hamsters were a pop sensation when they debuted in commercials in 2009 to sell the original Soul, a boxy subcompact that became as captivating to the American psyche as the anthropomorphic rodents driving it. Remember them? Everyone is a hamster in a wheel, the ads suggested, until the red Soul pulls up with gangsta-rap hamsters showing off a new way to roll.
Over the years, the ads showed the Soul cruising past toasters, a nod to the infamous quote by auto veteran Bob Lutz decrying modern cars as having the design elements of “angry kitchen appliances.” The hamsters changed over the years, as well. With the Soul turbo came a baby hamster named Turbo, featuring the music of Motörhead.
Kia introduced the controversial, slimmed-down, GQ-type hamster in the ad for the redesigned 2014 Soul with a Lady Gaga soundtrack. Lesson learned: People like the fat-boy, baggy-pants mammals busting a move. An electric Soul ad brought out sexy female hamsters shaking their booties.
And now we have MotorTrend‘s take on the 2020 Soul GT-Line. No hamsters, just our own expert behind the wheel of the third generation of a boxy vehicle that has outlived like-minded cubed competitors.
The 2020 Soul GT-Line still has the heart of a hip hamster with its 201-hp, 195-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbo-four. Wrap your paws around the Soul’s first paddle shifters with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. As the video makes clear: “It moves.”