KIA added another EV to their growing range in the form of the all-new Soul EV. Launched in 2009, the Soul has sold over 1.6 million units, mostly in the USA, the market it was designed for. Here in the UK, there has been a Soul EV since 2014 & in the UK, in 2019, the Soul EV outsold the combustion engine versions. This encouraged KIA to launch the new Soul as an EV model only in the UK & we got to drive it recently.
The Soul EV comes with the same powertrain as the e-Niro & sibling model Hyundai Kona Electric. This is a good thing. It’s tried & tested, with, if driven carefully, a 280 mile electric range, up from 132 miles on the last version.
The Soul’s looks have always divided opinion & the new version will as well. The front end comes with very narrow lights & a trapezoidal grille. Below sit the LED fog lights. The rear now features a boomerang shaped LED light strip, that wraps almost all the way around the rear screen. The Soul always stood out with it’s funky looks, but the latest version is funkier & this time chunkier than before.
From the outside, it’s noticeably larger & able to carry passengers in more comfort. Overall length is 4,220 mm, width 1,825 mm & height 1,605 mm. This gives it an extra 55 mm of length & a 30mm longer wheelbase. It’s still smaller then the e Niro though, which is 180mm longer & 5mm wider, with a boot capacity of 315 litres compared to the e Niro’s 451 litres. The Soul’s boot does feature a twin-level design with storage under the boots floor, where the charging cables can be neatly hidden.
Model range & specs
In the UK, the model range is limited to a First Edition model which comes loaded with kit. KIA obviously believe that EV customers want all of the goodies & the First Edition doesn’t disappoint. Roof rails, privacy glass, 17″ alloys, dual full LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, black leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a head-up display, 7″ OLED colour display cluster, DAB, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto with voice control, a reversing camera & a 10 speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system, are all included.
Active safety is comprehensive, with the Soul EV coming with ABS, ESC, ESS, FCA, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist & High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert & Hill Start Control.
The interior is well thought out, with some nice design touches, including the vertical side heating vents & the “1960’s TV” shaped area, which houses the infotainment screen & centre air vents. The highlight is definitely the 10.3″ central touchscreen which sit in the centre of the dash. It’s bright, clear & super-easy to use.Beneath this are the heating & ventilation controls, which are thankfully separate & not access through the touchscreen.
Underneath this, the centre recess offers some storage & you’ll also find the 12v & twin USB’s located here. Between the front seats sits the rotary gear selector, electric handbrake & buttons for the drive mode & heated seats. There are two cup holders on the drivers side & the centre armrest has storage beneath.The steering wheel controls give access to the cruise control on the right & infotainment & hands-free phone to the left.
Charging & battery range
As with other EV’s, you can sync your Soul with an app. The KIA app enables you to keep tabs on the battery charge via your smartphone. And, you can pre-charge remotely, to heat up or cool down the car’s interior dependant on temperature outside. Handy for cold as well as hot days.
From launch, only the the higher range version KIA battery with 64kWh is being offered. This comes with with a decent 201bhp, plus 291lb ft of torque, which when combine, gives you a rapid 0-62mph time of 7.9sec. Top speed in common with other EV’s, is a more mundane 103mph.
As with the e Niro, the Soul rides rather well. Despite a kerb weight of 1682kg, the suspension with dynamic dampers, allows the car to ride comfortably over bumpy roads. It’s eerily quiet at low speeds with some outside road & wind noise only noticeable at 50mph & above. With it’s auto gear box, it’s great to drive in town & selecting Drive , Park or Reverse, just requires a twist of the rotary gear knob. It’s certainly a relaxing car to drive.
With four different driving modes, Eco+, Eco, Normal or Sport, driver’s can choose which mode suits them best. You can also customise the amount of regenerative braking required. Again, there are four levels offered, None, One, Two or Three & it’s reassuringly easy to find out which one you’re comfortable with.
Suffice to say, drive the Soul in Eco+ with regen Three selected & the car is slower in general to drive, with a more noticeable slow down as you approach a junction or traffic light. If you choose Eco+, this turns of the air-con. As I was drving the Soul on the hottest day of the year, I opted for Eco & stayed cool behind th ewheel.
Opt for Sport & regen One & it’s surprise, surprise quicker & slows down more gradually. You can select the amount of regeneration you’d like via a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel. A Smart Eco Pedal Guide display within the instrument cluster, also keeps the driver aware of real time battery usage based on accelerator input.
Like any new car you get into, the Soul EV takes a little time to get used to. The regenerative braking is pretty straightforward to use, but it’s easy as we found out, to drive off with the air-con turned on & then wonder why the cabin isn’t getting warm. Within the heating controls, there is a separate button to turn the heating on & you need to push this in, otherwise the car will only blow cold air.
The charging cables fit neatly under the boot floor & when you need to use one, the charging lead point is located at the front left of the car. Simply press & open, connect the lead to the wall point charger & then to the car & away you go. Using a home 7.2kW charger, http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging means a total AC charge time from zero to full capacity in 9 hours 35 minutes. If you use the more powerful 50kW charger, available in many places, this gives you a DC charge time of 1 hour & 15 minutes to 80% charge. This is ideal if you’re on a longer journey, enabling you to plug in to top up the battery.
Pricing & company car benefits
Keeping to a Soul model priced under £35,000 gets you the £2,500 PiCG & the 1% BIK carrot currently being offered from April 1 2021 by the Chancellor, is also great news. Couple this with rentals from £380 + vat per month & the Soul EV is an attractive proposition.
From a fleet perspective, the Soul EV adds yet another string to KIA’s EV bow, as it joins the e-Niro in the KIA electric range. With the highly anticipated EV6 due in late 2021 & an all-new Sportage in 2022, KIA are certainly not resting on their laurels.
Furthermore, if you add in both a self-charging & a plug-in Niro, two further PHEV’s in the form of the XCeed & the Ceed Sportswagon & KIA are to be congratulated on seizing the electrification initiative, which as a Korean company, comes as no real surprise.
I’ve got Seoul but I’m not a Soldier 4/5