When you think about it; the Kia Soul, with its funky lines and youthful attitude make it a perfect candidate for an EV transformation. Add the fact that it fits into the burgeoning Urban Utility Segment, and Kia should have a winner on its hands.
What is the 2015 Kia Soul EV?
Styling-wise, the easiest way to tell the EV from other Souls is by looking at the front, where a solid body-coloured panel replaces the grille. It opens to reveal both a standard 110V/240V charge port and a fast charge port. The way the charge-port door swivels out and forward looks very cool, and the movement is one of quality.
Other “EV” touches include blue “eyebrows” over the headlights, with similar touches on the front splitter, the roof, and wing mirrors. It’s a little ice cream truck-ish, but it’s distinctive.
The other big giveaway is the set of white 16” wheels (your only choice). Combined with the ultra-low rolling resistance Nexen N’Blue tires, the Soul EV looks like it’s wearing the vehicular equivalent of moon boots. The wheels are shaped to reduce drag, though.
Inside, panels finished in a futuristic white plus blue piping on the leather seats add some distinction to the EV. The headliner, carpets and plastic panels are crafted from plant-based materials, and the paint used for certain interior bits is of the low-toxin water-based variety.
There are two available trims -- EV ($34,995) and EV Luxury ($37,995). Our tester was the latter. That adds leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, audible parking aid, rear heated seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and (perhaps most importantly) a 480V DC fast charge port joins the standard 240V port up front.
Charging the 2015 Kia Soul EV
If you do select a car fitted with the DC system, then the Soul can be recharged to over 80% in about half an hour. That number rises to 4-5 hours with a 240V level II charger, and 24 hours with a 120V household socket. We saw a little less than that, actually; an overnight charge got us from 30% to 95%, which isn’t shabby at all.
When you purchase a Soul EV, a Bosch 240V charging unit is included in the purchase price, but there will be additional installation costs. Canadian Kia dealers selling the EV will have the Bosch chargers on their lots, too.
The big digital display on the centre stack serves as your infotainment hub, yes, but it’s also where your charge information is. You can find the nearest charge point or choose when you start charging the car while it’s plugged in to curb energy use.
Driving the 2015 Kia Soul EV
Power from the 85 kW synchronous permanent magnet motor is rated at 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque (regular Souls make either 118 or 151 lb-ft, depending on spec), 100% of which is available as soon as you depress the throttle.
Even considering the weight added by the battery pack, the Soul EV is zippy off the line. You’re not going to be spinning the tires, but it’s nice to be able to zip forward with hardly any delay, no matter your current speed.
And boy, is it ever quiet. You’ll get some wind noise at higher speeds due to the boxy shape, and the tires aren’t the quietest, either. All this is only really noticeable at high speeds, which you probably won’t be doing too much of in your EV, anyways.
Kia quotes 149 kilometres on a single charge, but we saw 160 km. Granted that was mostly in town where the regenerative braking is at its best, but we did do some highway testing as well. The suspension is tuned to handle the extra weight, and the ride is smooth overall.
Comparing the 2015 Kia Soul EV
If we’re honest, the Soul EV is always going to be put up against the Nissan LEAF. Yes, Chevy has the Volt and there’s the smart Electric, too; but the body style of the Soul is much more LEAF-like than the others.
The Nissan starts at a little less than the Soul, but the Soul is the better looking of the two, has a higher quality interior, and longer claimed range than the LEAF.
The bottom line, though, is that the Soul is just so easy to like. It’s a really well thought-out application of EV tech, made all the more impressive by the fact that Kia managed to electrify the platform of the existing Soul so easily, with little more than a slightly higher floor required to fit the battery pack.