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2015 Kia Soul EV+ (pictures)

Kia electrifies the Soul compact with a positive eco-charge.

1 of 31 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2015 Kia Soul EV+

The lovable Kia Soul gets electrified for the 2015 model year with a new EV variant.

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Electric difference

You'll spot the EV by the lack of engine noise and the closed-off front grille openings.

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Charging ports

Kia hides the Soul EV's two charging ports behind a door that opens in the compact's nose.

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Fast or very fast charging

Here you'll find the standard 240/120V charging port that all EVs have adopted as well as a ChaDeMo rapid-charging port.

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Engine room

The Soul EV's engine bay doesn't look much different from the gasoline model's.

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EV powertrain

Pull back the engine cover and you'll find the EV's onboard charger sitting atop the 81.4kW AC motor.

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The Soul's output is stated at 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque.

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Because of the electric motor's flat torque curve, that 210 pound-feet goes a lot further than you'd think.

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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.

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Reversing alert

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.

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Eco Electric

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.

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2015 Kia Soul EV+

Our example was a "Soul EV+", the step-up from the "Soul EV Base" model.

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Leather or 'Bio-material' trim

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.

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Instrument cluster

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.

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Just the important bits

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.

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Adjustable power steering

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.

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Uvo infotainment

In the dashboard is the standard Uvo infotainment system -- good infotainment and telematics are almost a necessity for any electric vehicle.

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Eco driving info

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.

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Digital trees

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.

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Inputs and outputs

Below the infotainment stack are the standard 3.5mm analog auxiliary input and USB/iPod connection. Dual 12V connections keep your gadgets charged.

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Single-speed transmission

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.

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Active Eco

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.

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Quiet cabin

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.

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Plenty of space

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.

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Parking distance sensors

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.

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Projector headlamps

Rounding out the top-of-the-line feature set are projector beam headlamps and front fog lights.

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Standard rear camera

A rear camera is standard no matter what trim level you choose.

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Front-wheel drive

The Soul is a front driver and features wheels unique to the EV model.

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Low rolling resistance tires

Low rolling resistance tires aren't the best choice for sporty cornering, but help the Soul EV roll silently and smoothly.

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2015 Kia Soul EV+

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.

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An excellent first entry

Kia's first entry into the EV market builds on one of the brand's better models with very satisfying results.

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