RAC Cars News


Kia Soul EV

By raccars Published

In its modest way, the Kia Soul compact crossover has been successful. In the style of the Skoda Yeti, it has been quietly winning fans by offering funky styling and great practicality, in a value for money package. The second generation Soul for 2014 continues that original blueprint but enters interesting new territory, with the addition of an electric powertrain variant, the first time Kia has taken this technology into the international arena.

While distribution has been limited to the brand's homeland of Korea, Kia does have some electric powertrain experience, with the release of the Ray EV three years ago. The company will now be applying that experience to the next generation Soul. This car will share a platform with the equally well received Cee'd hatchback. The new Soul will be slightly larger than the outgoing version and benefits from a more rigid frame and updated suspension.

The modern platform was designed with electric vehicle technology in mind, so adapting the space to accept battery packs has little impact on interior capacity. More significantly though, it does add around 200kg of weight.

From the outside, there's little to distinguish the Kia Soul EV from its combustion engined counterpart. Apart from a few minor aerodynamic and styling modifications, there are now a couple of charging sockets built into the front grille, to accommodate domestic and rapid charging facilities. A domestic supply will replenish the batttery in about five hours, while 80% of power can be achieved at a rapid charging station within 25 minutes.

The EV benefits from the same improvements to cabin quality and design as the standard vehicle, but down to Earth Kia is not aiming for the futuristic feel characterising rivals, such as the Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe.

Vital statistics are thin on the ground as yet, as Kia is still working on battery options. There are three suppliers in contention, but the overall goal is to achieve a range of 124 miles, to keep the Kia competitive with immediate rivals such as the Ford Focus EV and Nissan Leaf. Neither has Kia confirmed at this stage whether the Soul EV will be sold with batteries included or if a leasing procedure will be required. Once this issue has been determined, Kia will be able to come up with a price.

The standard MkII Soul is about a year away yet and the EV will probably trail it by about six months. While UK sales volumes are expected to be modest, this is, nonetheless, a very positive step for both Kia and electric vehicle customers in the UK.

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