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.
Also up for discussion is whether the batteries will be offered through a leasing scheme, similar to Renault and Nissan, or sold with the vehicles outright. This will have a bearing on the final price that the Soul EV can be sold at.
The Soul EV moves quickly away from a standstill, and the smooth, linear power delivery and very light steering make it an effective tool for driving in built-up areas.
Kia estimates that the Soul EV will cover 0-62mph in less than 12 seconds and go on to a top speed of 90mph. It feels less at home on faster roads, where a lack of positive steering feel is evident and there’s surprisingly aggressive deceleration upon throttle lift off.
Although the regenerative system charges the battery, it means the Soul EV doesn’t cruise under its own momentum particularly effectively.
Like many EVs, the Soul emits a sound to warn pedestrians. Akin to the chime of a distant ice cream van, it is emitted at speeds below 12mph and when the Soul EV is reversing.
On the strength of this prototype drive, the Soul EV rides comfortably, absorbing road imperfections well, but feels a touch ponderous during faster cornering.