The Soul EV is the result of almost 30 years of research and development by Kia into the feasibility of electric cars. Now, with battery technology having reached a mature stage and emissions-based taxation providing an incentive for consumers to ‘go electric’, the time is right for the Soul EV.
Kia’s goals with the Soul EV were not only that it should have a class-leading range, but that it should remain as close to the combustion-engined versions as possible. This allows it to be built on the same production line at the Gwangju plant in Korea, minimising manufacturing complexity and cost, which in turn makes it more affordable.
Outwardly, the only obvious differences between the Soul EV and the models powered by internal combustion engines are the front end devoid of a radiator grille, the absence of a fuel filler flap and the unique rear light clusters. Fresh, funky, original and bold, the Soul EV – like its combustion-engined counterparts – has its roots in the Track’ster concept from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
The Soul EV has the same proportions and dimensions as the combustion-engined versions, with an upright stance, square shoulders and distinctive bumper flares. The structural changes that have been made to accommodate the battery pack are hidden out of view, beneath the floor.
Luggage capacity is 281 litres – a reduction of 31 litres compared with other versions of the Soul because the luggage undertray is used to house both charging cables. With the 60:40 split rear seats lowered, luggage capacity is 891 litres. A tyre inflation kit is provided in case of a puncture.
The Soul EV’s batteries have an energy storage capacity of 27 kilowatt-hours – more than its competitors. They are mounted beneath the car in a special casing which protects them from stone or gravel damage and spray thrown up by the wheels. The ducts to heat and cool them are located beneath the rear passenger seats.
The remainder of the electric drive components are mounted beneath the bonnet, where the internal combustion engine would normally be located. Because an electric motor requires less cooling than a petrol or diesel engine, the front of the Soul EV has been blanked off where the radiator grille would normally be found. This brings aerodynamic benefits.
The charging ports are hidden behind a panel in this blanked-off section. Owners have the option of recharging the batteries from a standard domestic socket, via the Kia-branded wallbox supplied as standard with the Soul EV or at a public fast charger, or through a public rapid charger. Using a UK 230-volt domestic power supply, the Soul EV can be fully recharged in 10 to 13 hours. With the wallbox or at a public fast-charge point, the time is reduced to around five hours.
Standard EV features include an eight-inch touch-screen with European mapping, traffic messaging channel, reversing camera and charging point locator; automatic air conditioning with the driver-only function; heated front seats; a smart key with a motor start-stop button; projection headlights
with LED daytime running lamps; front foglamps; privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate; 16-inch lightweight alloy wheels with super-low-rolling-resistance tyres; two charge points and the Heat Pump system. The car is also supplied with the wallbox charger and Virtual Engine Sound.
Also included in the standard specification are cruise control with a speed limiter, an electronic parking brake, front and rear electric windows, electrically folding adjustable heated door mirrors with LED indicators, solar glass for the windscreen and front windows, automatic light control with a follow-me-home function, LED rear combination and high-mounted brake lights, a 3.5-inch OLED supervision instrument cluster with specific EV information display, a trip computer, front speaker mood lights, driver’s seat height adjustment, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors and a luggage cargo screen plus retaining net.
In-car entertainment includes a DAB RDS radio with MP3 compatibility, steering wheel-mounted controls, USB and AUX ports and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming. Safety is taken care of by Anti-lock Brakes with Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill-start Assist, Emergency Stop Signalling, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring system and six airbags.
Take a closer look by using our interior and exterior tours