There is no doubt the third generation Soul from KIA really does stand out with its distinctive styling. Funky and trendy are the obvious words top describe the latest all electric version, First Edition trim in Northern Ireland where it is known as the Soul EV while in the Republic of Ireland K3 trim and known as e-Soul. It’s worth noting Soul was the company’s first electric vehicle; however the new model takes just about everything to a higher level.
I had the opportunity to drive the newcomer and right away I was struck by the improved level of build and finish quality.Built in South Korea, the newcomer is a global car and it is worth noting that in the USA the previous model proved to be very popular with college students, no doubt attracted by the stand out styling.
I am not suggesting for one minute that the new model is strictly for the young, I see it appealing to a wider audience who has their sights set on an all electric vehicle. Like to drive something just that little bit different, then this new KIA might just be the job.
I know that with all electric vehicles one of the buyer concerns has been range; good news on that front with the Soul EV, a range up to 450km (280) miles on a full charge. On my test drive a quick calculation resulted in a range of 403 km (251) miles. New electric motors deliver more power (max 201bhp) and pleasing performance, with rest to 100kph (60mph) in 7.6 seconds. Okay, top speed is not exactly earth shattering, but for most 168kph(104mph) will be perfectly acceptable.
The long range compact, lightweight battery pack is paired with a 150kW electric motor which makes it 84 percent more powerful than the outgoing model. When it comes to charging, a fast system is standard and the good news is that from 0-80 percent capacity can take as little as 54 minutes using a 100kW DC fast charger. There are a range of energy recuperation technologies to maximise the driving range, including an energy efficient heat pump system. Also standard is KIA’s innovative smart regenerative braking system which is operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
You can select from four regenerative braking levels depending on the level of energy recuperation and the system’s single pedal driving capability allows the Soul EV to harvest the maximum amount of energy from the brakes and you can even bring the car to a gentle halt without needing to push the brake pedal. There is a Smart Eco pedal guide display which keeps you aware of real time battery usage which is based on accelerator pedal input.
A new suspension setup delivers a responsive and comfortable ride for all who travel in the new Soul EV. In fact, in handling terms combined with the relatively lively acceleration, I found it to be a rather sporty drive. The placement of the battery beneath the passenger cabin aids handling and the new version has a wider stance than the previous model.
The Drive Mode Select system allows you to adapt the car to your preferred style or road conditions, choose from, Normal, Eco, Eco+ and Sport. The latter increases responses from the steering and electric motor which aids the drive quality. Normal mode delivers a balance between the other modes.
Certainly when it comes to looks, the Soul EV is an eyecatcher thanks to its sharp detailing and sculpted lines; I must add the charging socket is located behind a panel at the front of the vehicle.
The interior is pleasing to the eye and no surprise to be welcomed by a giant helping of technology to aid you keep in touch or to simply enjoy entertainment on the move.
The soul boasts an impressive list of standard equipment including such highlights as heated front seats, a premium Harman Kardon sound system and full marks to KIA for including an informative heads up display.
This urban crossover really does bristle with goodies and will not disappoint the buyer who has his or eyes firmly set on an all electric car. Just one little disappointment for me, I would have liked more boot space.