Kia electrifies the Soul compact with a positive eco-charge.
The lovable Kia Soul gets electrified for the 2015 model year with a new EV variant.
You'll spot the EV by the lack of engine noise and the closed-off front grille openings.
Kia hides the Soul EV's two charging ports behind a door that opens in the compact's nose.
Here you'll find the standard 240/120V charging port that all EVs have adopted as well as a ChaDeMo rapid-charging port.
The Soul EV's engine bay doesn't look much different from the gasoline model's.
Pull back the engine cover and you'll find the EV's onboard charger sitting atop the 81.4kW AC motor.
The Soul's output is stated at 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque.
Because of the electric motor's flat torque curve, that 210 pound-feet goes a lot further than you'd think.
The Soul pulls off of the line with a confidence that makes the rest of the compact EVs we've tested feel a bit weak by comparison.
The Soul lacks a tailpipe and glides nearly silently when in motion. The exception is when reversing, when the EV emits a subtle chirp to warn nearby peds to stay clear.
Almost visually identical to the gasoline-powered original, the Soul EV didn't attract a lot of attention. Electric car enthusiasts, however, spotted the "Eco Electric" badges and ran over to chat.
Our example was a "Soul EV+", the step-up from the "Soul EV Base" model.
The extra dough for the "+" gets us leather seats and a few safety features which will be pointed out in a bit. The EV Base has "Bio-material" trim.
Instrumentation in the Soul EV is much simpler than the dual-screen SmartGauges that we saw in the Focus Electric, but I think it's better for it.
Only the information you need when rolling is displayed. On the left is an eco-driving gauge, the battery level, and the estimated range. On the right is the speedometer.
The Soul's steering wheel feels nice enough for a car in this price range, but the steering feel can be quite good. Drivers have the choice between comfort, normal and sport power steering-assistance settings.
In the dashboard is the standard Uvo infotainment system -- good infotainment and telematics are almost a necessity for any electric vehicle.
The Uvo system grants the driver access to much more electric powertrain and battery information, as well as digital media controls and a smooth operating navigation system.
It just wouldn't be an EV if the driving gauges didn't show you growing some sort of digital tree. Fortunately, the Soul hides this silliness in its Uvo system.
Below the infotainment stack are the standard 3.5mm analog auxiliary input and USB/iPod connection. Dual 12V connections keep your gadgets charged.
The Soul EV only has a single-speed gearbox between its electric motor and the front wheels. However, it has two settings. Drive is the standard driving and coasting mode, but "B" adds extra braking regeneration to the mix. I found that the B option was weird at first but grew to prefer it.
Additionally, an Active Eco mode can be activated. I didn't find it necessary to reach the Soul EV's stated range, but heavy-footed drivers or those who make extensive use of the climate controls may find it useful.
Thanks to the lack of engine noise, I found the Soul EV to be a quiet city cruiser. If that's not your speed, you can always crank up the stereo.
The Soul EV does lose a bit of rear legroom and hatch space to its 27kWh battery pack. However, the Soul is pretty spacious to begin with, so you'll hardly notice.
The "plus" trim level also adds front and rear parking sensors the the standard feature mix. They help this already city-friendly EV squeeze into even tighter spots.
Rounding out the top-of-the-line feature set are projector beam headlamps and front fog lights.
A rear camera is standard no matter what trim level you choose.
The Soul is a front driver and features wheels unique to the EV model.
Low rolling resistance tires aren't the best choice for sporty cornering, but help the Soul EV roll silently and smoothly.
The EPA reckons the Soul EV is good for 93 miles of range from a full charge and the combined equivalent of about 105 mpg.
Kia's first entry into the EV market builds on one of the brand's better models with very satisfying results.