Kia puts Soul into

EV market

Kia Soul EV, 2020, front
Kia Soul EV, 2020, side
Kia Soul EV, 2020, rear
Kia Soul EV, 2020, display screen
Kia Soul EV, 2020, boot
Kia Soul EV, 2020, charging
Kia Soul EV, 2020, motor
Kia Soul EV, 2020, rear seats
Kia Soul EV, 2020, badge

KIA has already proven how seriously it is taking the future of clean motoring by becoming a key player in the EV market and now that attack on the more environmentally-friendly driving scene has picked up pace with the all-new Soul EV.

The Korean car maker has offered a fully electric vehicle in its line-up since 2014 and more recently introduced a number of 48v mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids to its range.

The original Soul EV was powered by traditional combustion engines, but the second-generation car was launched with an EV option.

It was the company's first ever fully electric car but had a limited range, although was still advanced for its time.

But now Kia is drawing on the success of the e-Niro to build a new generation Soul EV that is brimming over with technology and it also boasts a very impressive range.

There is just one trim level available called First Edition and the car costs£33,795 after the Government's plug-in grant has been deducted.

The car's design has been completely revamped with a fresh and funky look and an emphasis on fun. Every single panel is new, yet the Soul EV remains instantly recognisable by staying true to its upright and somewhat boxy urban crossover appearance.

It has a softer look designed to appeal to the masses with slim LED front lights, strake-style LED fog lights and the charging point is neatly integrated behind a small panel at the front of the car.

The windows taper towards the rear of the vehicle with a fin-shaped rear pillar replacing the sharper angles on earlier models and the styling is completed with unique five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels. A choice of two-tone colour combinations body colours really helps the Soul EV stand out in any crowd.

Move inside and there is quality through and through with lots of soft-touch surfaces, piano black trim and a high-tech interior inspired by music. It retains the signature tweeter speakers that bookend the dashboard and the cabin is finished in black leather upholstery.

There are high levels of on-board technology at your disposal with creature comforts including heated seats and heated steering wheel, a 10-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, head-up display, reversing camera with dynamic guideline and rear parking sensors, a wireless phone charger and a 10.25-inch floating infotainment touchscreen with sat nav and European mapping. The car also has full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

In addition there is an UVO Connect system to deliver live data such as traffic reports, parking options with pricing and availability, points of interest, weather forecasts and, perhaps most significantly, details about charging facilities and availability.

The Soul EV is powered by the same technology as the e-Niro which is a 64kWh battery and 201bhp (150kW) pure electric motor. It can be charged to 80 per cent in just 54 minutes using a 100kW charger or 75 minutes if plugged into a 50kW charge point.

But the the real-world range on the new car is set at 280 miles between charges and this increases to 402 miles in a city environment.

The Soul EV starts up with a little welcoming jingle sound and you simply turn the gear selector from N to D to pull away in complete silence. Despite the car's funky squared-off looks it's quite the powerhouse when it comes to performance and can complete the 0-62mph sprint in a very spritely 7.9 seconds, topping out at 104mph.

The acceleration is rapid and the car fizzes through the country lanes without a care in the world. The road holding is ultra grippy but tight bends need to be given a degree of respect to avoid any body sway. The steering is fairly light, but switching through the driving modes called Eco, Eco+, Normal and Sport certainly alters the car's mannerisms considerably.

On motorways or dual carriageways you will hear a little wind and road surface noise due to the silent running and design of the Soul, but that's where the superb audio system comes into play. After all, this is a car that has soul in its roots.

The suspension system does a good job of smoothing out all but the most severe bumps and dips along the way and the all-round ride and handling impressed at all times.

To help increase the driving range, there are paddles just behind the steering wheel. These are for the regenerative braking with four settings that increase how much energy is captured during deceleration. It is actually possible to drive the car for miles on end without touching the brake pedal at all.

The high seating position results in excellent driver visibility and the car was deceptively agile in busy town centres where it weaved through the crowds with ease.

New Soul EV has also grown a little - it's 80mm longer and the wheelbase is increased by 30mm and that means more room for occupants and a boot space of 315 litres (up by 34 litres) - increasing to 1,339 litres with the rear seats folded down. That maximum storage limit is up by a whopping 448 litres.

Comfort levels within the car are good and there is space for two adults to sit comfortably in the back of the car - or three if they don't mind rubbing shoulders. The upright design of the Soul EV means the head space is generous and legroom also impresses.

Kia is confident the Soul EV will be awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it is tested with standard safety features including lane keeping assist, forward collision warning with forward collision avoidance assist, blind spot detection with rear-cross traffic alert, driver attention warning, high beam assist, seven airbags and plenty more besides.

All in all, the latest generation Soul EV is quite the all-round package. It offers funky good looks, a wealth of on-board technology and a driving range that will leave many rivals searching desperately for the nearest charging points.

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