Kia has introduced the world’s media to its latest Soul EV in Los Angeles, with a new battery pack expected to give a serious hike in driving range between top-ups. Performance will be more stirring, and fans of the quirky and boxy Korean crossover vehicle should note some well-judged styling adjustments. It’s the battery that’s most exciting, with a new liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer design and impressive 64kWh capacity shared with the all-electric Hyundai Kona. The Soul EV is still undergoing final testing, but it’s likely to have a range of around 280 miles, making long journeys significantly more feasible. That’s doubly the case as a Combined Charging System (CCS) with fast-charging is also standard, so owners will be able to add more miles in less time at service areas equipped with the right charging posts.
REJUVENATED SOUL EV GETS BATTERY BOOST
Power is 201bhp, sent to the front wheels, with torque increased from 210 to 291lb ft to boost acceleration. Accompanying the extra performance, Kia promises improved ride and handling for its latest Soul thanks to a new fully-independent rear suspension setup for the rear axle. Four driving modes called Comfort, Sport, Eco and Eco+ will also offer control over the driving experience and how much energy the electric motor consumes, adjusting the climate control, throttle response and level of regeneration as you coast. The latter can also be tweaked using paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, adjusting the amount of energy recouped (and braking effect) over four stages and even bring the Soul EV to a stop in traffic. Here, a smart regenerative braking system can also detect the car in front and automatically adjust the braking level to match.
Kia has smoothed the Soul EV’s bumpers for a sleeker look, while its aerodynamic solid front grille houses the charging flap on the driver’s side for added convenience. Slim LED headlights tidy up the nose, while piercing daytime running lights and unique 17-inch alloy wheels add character to the EV version.
Designed to appeal to the techsavvy, the interior has been decked out with a 10.25-inch touchscreen with a rear-view camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with Bluetooth and voice recognition. The EV will also get a unique telematics system, giving access to information about charging, remaining range and real-time updates for charging stations. Owners will also be able to trigger a ‘panic alarm’ to alert the emergency services of their GPS position in the event of an incident. A long roster of safety equipment will include autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, smart cruise control, blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts. High-specification versions will also be offered with two-tone paintwork and features like a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and Sofino synthetic leather upholstery. Expected on sale in the first half of 2019, UK-specific specifications and pricing will be announced this spring.