Based off the recently redesigned front-wheel-drive Kia Soul subcompact, the new Soul EV joins the growing list of small battery-electric vehicles on sale primarily in the coastal states in order to comply with increasingly stringent zero-emissions mandates that require a percentage of an automaker’s sales to be zero-emissions vehicles.
The new Soul EV doesn’t look much different from the standard Soul, which already received a 2014 update inside and out to incorporate cues from Kia’s popular Track’ster concept car. The main visual differences between the conventional gasoline-powered car and the EV are in external trim — the EV has a solid grille where the charging ports are hidden, 16-inch wheels with a design borrowed from the Optima Hybrid and a two-tone paint scheme that looks positively Mini Cooperish.
Although the Soul EV looks little changed from the normal Soul, there are some EV-specific differences in the cabin. Two seat options are available: a standard dark cloth with blue stitching or optional dark gray leather with blue piping. Kia has upped the eco-friendly plastic content of the interior as well, using organic plant-based plastics for 19 different interior parts.
Kia’s UVO multimedia system is standard, as is navigation and a suite of apps designed specifically for EV operation that can show things like the location of nearby charging stations. The gauges are replaced by a low-energy LED display, which features all of the requisite meters for EV operation, state of charge and more. The car also features a novel air conditioning system that allows the driver to select a number of modes designed to minimize electrical draw from the car’s battery. A driver-only setting on the system can shut off ventilation to the passenger-side front position and the rear positions to focus heating or cooling on the driver.
The Soul EV is an all-electric battery-powered vehicle featuring a 109-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed gear reduction transmission. The battery itself is a 27-kilowatt-hour air-cooled lithium-ion pack located under the vehicle floor, which will provide the car 93 miles of range, according to the EPA.
Recharging happens through one of three methods. Full recharge takes about 24 hours on a standard household 120-volt Level 1 outlet and drops to about five hours on a 240-volt Level 2 fast charger. A third option is a 480-volt DC “CHAdeMo” fast charger, typically only available at industrial locations or commercial charge stations, which can recharge the car to about 80 percent in just 33 minutes. The battery pack does intrude somewhat into the cabin, eliminating 3 inches of rear-passenger legroom.
The car should get from zero-to-60 mph in less than 12 seconds according to Kia, and is limited to a top speed of 90 mph. Regenerative brakes are standard and have the ability to recapture up to 12 percent of the car’s energy when coasting or braking. The regenerative brakes offer four selectable modes to allow drivers to customize the response and aggressiveness.