When the Kia Soul first showed up on the Canadian auto scene a few years ago, I was skeptical about their brick-like aerodynamic body style. In a time where the emphasis was on sleek and chic, the Soul’s unmistakable body style definitely turned heads.
And with a wide demographic range of drivers, Kia had quietly and strategically taken market share from other, well known manufacturers.
I’ve always liked the soul, personally. Perhaps its memories of my 1987 Volvo station wagon that draw me to the soul. Or perhaps it’s the higher seating position.
Or maybe because it can be called a car, or CUV or crossover. Kia calls it a car. I call it a compact utility vehicle due to its higher stance.
When Kia decided to produce an electric version of the soul, I’m happy that they didn’t rush the product out the door. They’re still relatively new to the Canadian auto world and their power to surprise slogan shows that they understand that. It also illustrates that they’re striving to grow up quickly and be taken seriously but not so fast as to put the cart before the horse.
The soul EV looks a little softer than its gasoline counterpart. My blue body and white roof/white rims tester definitely stood out. Without a grille, the EV’s nose is long panel which half of opens up to accept a charge. The white rims took a few days to grow on me mainly because it’s not something I’ve seen on stock cars in recent memory. It looks good, just different at first glance.
Where the soul EV shines is its range. a healthy 149 km on a full charge. In a major city with most amenities being relatively close to where you live, the Soul EV makes a strong argument for being the one Canadian consumers should choose. And with charging stations in many spots in these cities, plus an option to plug it into a household outlet, it’s easy for those who are woeful of range anxiety.
Powering the vehicle is a 27-kWh, 360 volt, 192-cell lithium-ion polymer battery which is located beneath the floor board so that interior space isn’t compromised. So there’s your practicality aspect covered.
Seeing as everyone has different items on their daily plate, there are three options for charging.
You can use the charging port for 120v charging, you can use it for 240v charging, both offering a full charge in below five hours.
Additionally, there’s a DC fast charge port that takes you from empty to 80% in 33 minutes, or enough time to grab a quick lunch on a well-planned out road trip.
Regenerative braking can also help extend battery life, especially if you select the “B” gear which stands for braking. When in B, acceleration is normal but once you remove the throttle, the car slows down very quickly to transfer a portion of kinetic energy back into the battery.
The 149 km range can be affected by the number of passengers/cargo in the car, if all the windows are open, or if the ac is on, all of which make the vehicle work harder to move forward.
As it’s an electric vehicle, there’s no engine noise so when you’re in reverse, as a safety measure in the absence of a louder traditional engine, there’s a series of beeps when backing up.
If you don’t like the electric blue and polar white combo, a pearl white body and sky blue roof or black body and red roof are options.
On the road, the EV is smooth from stop to start and there’s no lag on getting it up to highway speeds. Even though 109 horsepower seems paltry, it’s the 210 lb-ft. of torque that’s the real hero. Handling is pleasant and when you need to move a bit faster, it’s up to the task. Even though it’s significantly heavier than its gasoline counterpart, the one speed transmission is reliable to react to other drivers. Mostly the ones who forgot to use their turn indicator or aren’t sure why the car has mirrors.
The interior fit and finish is well executed with a digital dashboard showing you speed and km’s remaining on the charge with the 8” touch screen centre console giving a clear picture of audio and available navigation.
There’s also an “EV” button which shows you driving stats as well as how close a charging station is, along with other relevant information.
The comfortable heated seats are standard and air-cooled seats are available.
Kia has utilized plant-based materials for all the plastic components of the Soul EV, which ties in beautifully for caring about the environment.
Kia’s Soul EV has already made waves by winning the Green Car of the year at the Green Living show, the AJAC Canadian green car of the year and Motoring TV’s best electric car, all which were awarded in March 2015.
With a price tag starting at $34,995 for the well-equipped EV (the EV Luxury is $37,995) the pricing isn’t out of this world, making it easier for drivers to get behind the wheel.
The rapidly evolving electric car technology is advancing quickly and Kia’s offering combines a solid range, good looks, functionality and has a “fun-to-drive” aura; all of which are pillars for an electric cars, in my mind.
For short jaunts to multiple city stops to longer trips, the 2015 Soul EV can handle them. It’ll take a bit of planning (not much, really) but don’t let range anxiety slow you down in this car.
Electric cars are no longer a “fad” and will constantly be evolving over the coming years. Kia’s driving down the right road (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and I truly hope that we start seeing more Soul EV’s on the streets over the coming years.
Especially on Electric Avenue.
EV Luxury $37,995
For possible government rebates, see http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/index.shtml
Yay: Long range, comfortable, well equipped, three ways to charge, looks good, adequate power, lots of torque.
Nay: Electric technology is fairly new so expect an increase in range for the next generation. Not really a nay against Kia, more of a statement that new technology will advance quickly as demand rises.