Despite lots of PR hype from Tesla, Nissan, and others, all electric vehicles are slowly, make that very slowly, populating Americas automotive landscape. But one way some companies hope to speed that along is to drop EV powertrains into already popular designs. Having said that we still didn’t see this new one coming. The KIA Soul EV.
2015 sees Kia "charge” into yet another automotive segment with the still quirkily Soul EV. A logical progression, perhaps, as the brand is no stranger to the hybrid-electric game.
Giving life to the Soul’s charge is an 81.4kW motor, located up front, right where the I4 gas-burner would traditionally be mounted. This EV cranks out 109-horsepower and 210 lb-ft. of torque. That’s slightly more than the Nissan Leaf, but less than the Ford Focus Electric.
Energy is stored in a 27kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted low in the chassis, taking up only a small amount of rear seat space.
So there’s still lots of room inside for both people and parcels. In fact, cargo space is unchanged from the standard Soul at 18.8 cubic-ft. Or, fold the seatbacks for the same 49.5 cubic-ft.
The EPA range of 93-miles is higher than both the Focus and the Leaf; or basically any EV that’s not a Tesla.
With a top speed of 90 miles per hour, Kia estimates 0-60 in a pokey 11.2-seconds. It doesn’t jump from a standstill like most EVs. However, it does quickly gain steam as you go.
While its remains “Soul”ful in its appearance, and kind of already looked like an EV, that doesn’t mean it won’t be easy to pick out on the road. There are new front and rear fascias just for the EV, as well as unique 16-inch alloys. Plus, you can opt for one of the EV-only paint schemes like this 2-tone Caribbean Blue.
Exclusive LED tail lights give an attention grabbing spark to the rear, and of course there’s EV badging all around. Dual charging ports are hidden up front; 1 for level 1 & 2 AC charging, and 1 for 480v DC fast charging. Plan on about 5-hours for a full charge with a 240v household setup.
Inside, there’s new white trim on the console, IP, and door panels and a unique, more efficient HVAC system. Standard equipment includes navigation, back-up camera, heated steering wheel, and new Supervision gauge panel with low energy organic LEDs. Bio-based materials are used throughout the interior, and they are mostly soft and inviting.
Initial sales will only be in California. But just like the Flu, sales will quickly spread throughout the country.
While there’s no hiding the additional 450-pounds of battery weight, placing it down low limits any compromise in handling. While turn-in response is slower, there is very little body roll even when pushed hard through corners.
That weight also helps to give the Soul EV a more solid and stable feel than its fossil fueled brethren. The electric motor is quieter than most, and combined with increased sound deadening, it makes for a very quiet commute.
Even the brake pedal has a very natural feel to it for an EV, and there’s an aggressive engine braking mode as well. Steering feel was less impressive, but there are 3 different modes to choose from, so you can find the one that works the best for you.
The + trim level is available in the EV as well, which gets you leather seating, heated and cooled for up front and just heated in the rear; as well as fog lights and a few other niceties.
UVO EV services are free for 5-years and allows for monitoring your Soul EV in real time from your smart phone when you’re away from it, and increased integration with your phone when you’re in it.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a miles-per-gallon equivalent of 120-City, 92-Highway, and 105-Combined. And being a zero emissions vehicle, there’s an almost perfect Energy Impact Score with 0.2-barrels of yearly oil use.
Pricing starts at a very reasonable $34,500, + trim level goes for 2-grand more. Add in the still available Federal tax credit and the base price falls to $27,000.
Kia has chosen well to enter the EV market, and with just about the perfect vehicle to do it with. The 2015 Soul EV offers more power and more range than most other all-electrics. Add in a funky style that makes driving this EV really cool, and it looks like this Soul is primed to send a shock through the system.
Torque: 210 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 11.2 seconds
EPA: 120 city/ 92 highway
Energy Impact: 0.2 barrels of oil/yr