What is it?
The bold, funky looks of the second-generation Kia Soul don’t stray too far from its predecessor, and this electric version shares the new-for-2014 car’s basic dimensions.
Kia's new Soul is Kia’s first global electric vehicle, following the Ray EV, which has been silently cruising around Korea for three years.
This latest Soul has adopted the same platform as the Kia Cee’d. It is wider and longer than the first-gen Soul, with a 20mm longer wheelbase at 2570mm, as well as a 29 per cent stiffer body shell and revised suspension geometry.
The platform was designed to accept battery packs under the rear seats, which means that little of the second-generation Soul’s 354-litre boot space has been sacrificed for the EV technology. It does, however, bring a weight penalty in the region of 200kg.
What's it like?
The key visual differences between the standard Soul and its electric sibling include: subtle aerodynamic tweaks, different lights, a revised bonnet and grille and low-rolling-resistance 16in tyres.
In the grille are two charging points, one each for standard and rapid charging. From a standard household electricity supply, Kia estimates a full charge will take about five hours; a rapid charge can replenish a depleted battery to 80 per cent capacity in 25 minutes.
The Soul EV prototype we drove was heavily disguised, but offered some hints as to the design and ambience of the new car. It has sharper, cleaner exterior styling than its predecessor and a more upmarket interior, albeit one that is more akin to the standard Soul than the futuristic Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf.
It has bespoke dials and gauges, and there are some neat energy-saving touches, such as the option to turn off the climate control to empty passenger seats to conserve power. Forward visibility is mildly improved thanks to slimmer A-pillars.
The technical specification of the definitive production Kia Soul EV is still being thrashed out. Kia chiefs say they are assessing three battery providers, although regardless of which one is selected, the manufacturer is aiming for a range of 124 miles on a full charge in optimum conditions: similar to Nissan’s claim for the Leaf and more than the Ford Focus EV.