Cars & Bikes
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The new Kia Soul EV boasts range of over 243 miles.
The new Kia Soul EV boasts range of over 243[+]
Having driven some of the latest and greatest EVs including the Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model 3 and Porsche Taycan recently, I must say that the new Kia Soul EV delivers considerable punch and poise for its price.
The new Soul EV basically doubles the power output of the outgoing electric version, up from 109hp to 201hp while torque jumps from 210 to 290 pound-feet. It takes the electric powertrain including the inverter, motor and batteries from the Niro EV and plonks them into a more stylish, better handling and more affordable package.
The Soul has always been a funky looking little hatch with that boxy shape. Now in its third generation, appearing ten years after the original, it’s more likely to appeal to the masses given its longer, sleeker silhouette with softened edges. The slim wraparound LED front lights also improve its sense of style and the 16 color combinations and sporty 17-inch alloys complete the exterior package.
But the biggest highlight of the new improved Soul is greatly improved range. Kia says this model will cover up to 280 miles on a single charge although the EPA has pegged that figure at 243 miles. To be honest, when we started our World Car Awards test drive in L.A. of a pre-production model, the car’s range read 255 miles on the dash so an educated guess would put the car’s actual mileage somewhere between the two.
The battery will charge from 20-80% in around 40 minutes using a 100kW quick charger. But what about home charging, I hear you say? Well, in desperation, you can plug it into a 120-volt AC household socket if need be, but according to Kia, you’ll have to find 63 hours to achieve a full charge. Ouch.
What makes the extra miles possible is the newly fitted 64kWh liquid-cooled battery pack. These extra herbs mean that 0-60mph times are down from 9.7 to 7.2 seconds, with the car delivering brisk surges of acceleration at just about any speed. So merging seamlessly on freeways is now a far easier task.
On the road, the Soul EV excels. With its powertrain and essential hardware positioned lowdown in the chassis, achieving a lower center of gravity than previous gasoline-powered Souls, ride is firm but comfortable and the car handles superbly while changing direction effortlessly. Its steering is well-weighted and delivers good feedback. Brakes too are surprisingly responsive, grippy and do not feel spongy like regenerative braking systems on rival EV models. Flick the toggle into Sport mode and it quickens throttle response making the Soul EV a fun little hatch to drive.
On first glance, the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel appeared erroneous given that the car does not have a gearbox as such. But as I played around with them, I realized that they are an integral part of the regenerative braking system in that you can change the amount of energy recouped by selecting from one of three settings. Lift off the throttle in the highest level 3 setting and the car brakes automatically as if you’ve started depressing the brake pedal.
The driver sits high in the cockpit which gives good visibility all round. The plastics and trim are of acceptable quality and the fit and finish is sound. All switches and dials have good tactile feedback and switches are intuitively designed. Infotainment comes through a 10.3-inch touchscreen which is user-friendly and easy to use. The dash shows clearly how much range you have left as well as necessary data like outside temperature and air-con settings. Seats deliver ample support and comfort and both front and rear seats offer sufficient legroom. You can opt for a sound mood lighting system that pulses lights around the cabin in tune with the music you’re playing.
While pricing has not yet been announced, expect a figure somewhere around that of the Niro EV which starts at $38,500.
In a career that spans 30 years, I have written about automobiles, innovation, games, luxury lifestyles, travel and food. Based in Tokyo since 1988, I was in the front…Read More