The all-new Kia Soul EV brings long-range, zero-tailpipe emissions power to the urban crossover class. The third globally-sold electric vehicle from Kia Motors will make its European debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show next month.
In its third generation, Kia’s urban crossover has become more distinctive, dynamic and innovative than ever. While the Soul EV embraces the iconic design and playful character of its predecessors, it will be powered in Europe exclusively by electric energy, with a choice of two long-range, zero-emissions powertrains. The new-generation battery packs powering the Soul EV are up to 30 per cent more energy efficient than Europe’s current best-selling electric vehicle.
The Soul EV retains the strengths that have characterised earlier generations of the model, offering outstanding value for money, a roomy interior for five occupants, and high levels of space and versatility. Like all Kia models, the Soul EV will be sold as standard in Europe with Kia’s quality promise: an unrivalled seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which also covers the car’s electric motor and battery pack.
The Soul EV goes on-sale across Europe towards the end of the first quarter of 2019. UK specification, on-sale date and pricing will be announced in due course.
Updating an icon – a distinctive, box-fresh design
Fresh, funky and distinctive, the Soul EV celebrates the iconic design and playful character of the first- and second-generation Soul models. With newly-sculpted lines, sharp details, and technical lighting elements, the Soul EV is the most futuristic, youthful and innovative iteration yet.
Every exterior panel on the Soul EV is new, yet it remains instantly recognisable by staying true to its boxy origins. Its urban crossover design has been enhanced with sharp full-LED headlamps integrated into the upper ‘brow’, which extends across the front of the 1,800-mm wide car. The front and rear bumpers, and a solid panel in place of a grille, give it a smooth, aerodynamic appearance. The charging socket is housed behind a small panel at the front of the car. Strake-style LED foglamps beneath the headlights replace the round lamps found on the previous Soul EV.
In profile, the Soul EV’s boxy silhouette remains clear, yet subtle adjustments to its proportions and details give the car a more confident appearance. At 4,195 mm in length, the Soul EV is 55 mm longer than the car it replaces – with a 2,600-mm wheelbase (+30 mm) and a 15-mm longer front overhang. This effect is enhanced visually by the newly-designed rear pillar and shape of its glasshouse. The windows taper towards the rear of the car, with a fin-shaped rear pillar replacing what was previously a sharp angle at the base of the rear windows. The shape of the glasshouse draws the eyes along the side of the car as the bodywork kicks up towards the roof, ending in a matte black panel bearing the Soul name. This effectively balances the visual ‘weight’ of the rear with the longer front end. The Soul EV is finished with a unique five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheel design.
At the rear, the ‘island’ of bodywork in the tailgate remains. Surrounded by gloss black, this panel takes on a more rounded, modern shape for the new model, and sits atop restyled rear bumpers. It is parenthesised by bold new wraparound LED combination lamps.
The Soul EV is available in a choice of seven single-tone paint finishes and seven two-tone combinations, mixing bright body colours with metallic shades for the roof and door mirror caps.
European customers can also specify an optional SUV Pack, which elevates the design of the Soul EV with the addition of bolder wheel arch and side sill cladding, as well as a skid plate on the base of the front bumpers.
A high-tech interior inspired by music
Since the Soul’s inception, music has been an overarching theme behind its design. In its third generation, this continues to be a core attribute of the car’s persona. For the new model, designers and engineers have ‘turned up the volume’ on the interior, drawing inspiration from the visualisation of sound.
The Soul EV’s interior space is finished with acoustic-inspired shapes and textures, creating a full sensory experience. The Soul EV retains the signature ‘tweeter’ speakers which bookend the dashboard, a feature of the previous-generation Soul which exemplified the car’s combination of cool design and ultimate functionality.
As vibrant inside as out, the Soul EV’s cabin can be finished in a range of single- or two-tone colour schemes, with a choice of fabric and synthetic or real leather, depending on market and vehicle specification. Colour and trim schemes include single-tone black or two-tone grey cloth (light and dark grey) with pearl-style door trim. The interior is also available with black or grey cloth, cloth and synthetic leather, or real leather upholstery, with light grey contrast stitching and metallic-painted door trim. Models finished in black cloth are also available with optional Green or Gold Packs, which add gold or green contrast stitching and door trim. A Red Pack is available to accompany the black leather interior, adding sporty red stitching and door trim.
The cabin is fitted with an optional Sound Mood Lighting system, emitting soft light from panels in the doors. This also includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the upper door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting system pulses in time the beat of music playing through the audio system, with eight customisable colours and six themes illuminating the cabin.
The car is also available with a wireless phone charger at the base of the dashboard, heated and ventilated front seats, and a premium harman/kardon sound system. An available Head-Up Display system unobtrusively projects relevant driving information on to a small glass panel behind the steering wheel – such as turn-by-turn navigation directions and vehicle speed information.
Long-range, zero-emissions – a choice of two fully-electric powertrains
The Kia Soul EV will be sold in Europe exclusively as an electric vehicle, with a choice of two fully-electric, zero-emission powertrains to meet the needs and budgets of different customers.
Drivers have a choice of long-range (64 kWh) and standard-range (39.2 kWh) powertrains. Whichever version a buyer chooses, both variants offer vastly improved range over the outgoing Soul EV. On-road performance is also enhanced, with significantly more powerful electric motors providing 395 Nm of torque – 39 per cent more than before.
Furthermore, Kia’s new-generation lithium-ion polymer battery packs offer greater energy capacity than those of many other electric vehicles, regardless of price. Cell energy density of 250 Wh/kg, achieved through new cell chemistry, enable the cells to store 25 per cent more energy within a defined volume than those of the 200 Wh/kg battery pack in the outgoing Soul EV. This has enabled Kia to keep the battery pack as compact and lightweight as possible, while taking a huge leap in the car’s zero-emissions driving range compared to its predecessor and other electric vehicles on the market.
The long-range 64 kWh battery pack is paired with a 150 kW (204 ps) electric motor, enabling the Soul EV to travel up to 280 miles (452 kilometres) on a single charge (on the WLTP combined cycle). Energy consumption for the 64 kWh battery pack is just 157 Wh/km on the WLTP combined cycle – 24 per cent more efficient than Europe’s current best-selling electric vehicle. Energy consumption for the long-range Soul EV is as low as 109 Wh/km in urban environments (WLTP urban cycle).
With the powertrain’s maximum 395 Nm torque available from a standstill, and 84 per cent more power than the car it replaces, the long-range 64 kWh Soul EV will accelerate from 0-to-100 kph in just 7.6 seconds.
The standard-range 39.2 kWh battery pack powers an efficient 100 kW (136 ps) electric motor. With peak torque of 395 Nm, and 23 per cent more power than the outgoing Soul EV, the significantly improved efficiency of the battery nevertheless enables the standard-range Soul EV to travel up to 172 miles (277 kilometres) on a single charge. Energy efficiency is rated at 145 Wh/km (WLTP combined), 30 per cent more efficient than the best-selling electric car in Europe – making it one of the most energy-efficient electric vehicles in the world.
A Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charger is fitted as standard to both models, enabling shorter stops for charging. Both battery packs can be recharged from 20 per cent up to 80 per cent capacity in just 42 minutes from a 100 kW DC fast-charger.
The Soul EV is fitted with a range of energy-recuperation technologies to maximise driving range. This includes Kia’s energy efficient heat pump system, which scavenges waste heat from the car’s coolant system. It also features Kia’s innovative individual ventilation and air conditioning system, which shuts off cabin ventilation at the source to all seats except the driver’s – unlike other systems, which merely divert air to open passenger cabin vents.
The Soul EV is also equipped as standard with Kia’s innovative regenerative braking system, operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The system provides drivers with the ability to slow the car and recuperate kinetic energy to maximise its driving range and efficiency. Drivers can choose from five regenerative braking levels (none, one to three, or ‘single pedal’ mode), depending on the level of energy recuperation they desire from the brakes. The system’s ‘single pedal’ driving mode also allows the car to harvest the maximum amount of energy from its brakes, and even enables the driver to bring the car to a gentle halt without necessarily needing to push the brake pedal. The regenerative braking system can also automatically adjust the braking level if it detects the car in front slowing down, creating smoother coast-down driving – especially on a steep downhill road. A Smart Eco Pedal Guide display on the driver’s instrument cluster also keeps the driver aware of real-time battery usage based on accelerator pedal input.
In addition, the Soul EV’s Drive Mode Select system lets drivers adapt the car to their preferred style or the road conditions. Drivers can choose from ‘Normal’, ‘Eco’, Eco+’ and ‘Sport’ mode. The two Eco modes are tuned to maximise vehicle range with certain power-saving measures, while Sport mode increases responses from the steering and electric motor to maximise the dynamic driving feel of the car. Normal mode provides a careful balance between each.
The Soul EV is the first generation of the Soul to feature fully-independent multi-link rear suspension. This replaces the torsion beam rear axle on first- and second-generation models, making the car at once more engaging, responsive and comfortable to drive.
Kia launches innovative new UVO CONNECT telematics system
A suite of advanced features enhance safety, improve the driving experience and provide ease of operation and ownership. Furthermore, the new model is the first Kia in Europe to offer the brand’s innovative UVO CONNECT telematics system.
UVO CONNECT is designed to bring driving into the digital era, connecting drivers to the world around to provide them with invaluable information – via the in-car touchscreen, and on their smartphone.
The new technology has been developed to comply with the latest European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring the highest levels of data privacy and protection.
UVO features the Kia Live system, housed within the 10.25-inch TFT LCD widescreen in the centre of the Soul EV’s dashboard. The system uses its own SIM card to retrieve and update live data during a drive, such as live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and parking availability. Crucially, the UVO system also shows drivers charging station locations, charger availability, and connection compatibility.
The second element of the UVO system is the UVO App, designed for compatibility on Android and Apple smartphones. The app offers users peace of mind with a range of features to provide diagnostic data about their car and the trips they take. The app also enables owners to activate a range of remote functions and features remotely. Depending on country, users can remotely activate the climate control system (pre-heating or pre-cooling the car, depending on the weather), and send route directions to their car before a journey.
The app enables users to check battery charging status remotely, and stop or resume charging at a tap of a screen – allowing them to take advantage of cheaper overnight electricity tariffs if charging at home. The app also lets users check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications.
Following its introduction on the Soul EV, Kia’s UVO CONNECT technology will be introduced to other European models in the near future.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system features Bluetooth multi-connection as standard, enabling occupants to connect two mobile devices at once, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its advanced split-screen functionality lets users control or monitor different vehicle features at the same time, customising the screen with a series of different widgets. This enables the driver to have a single display (such as navigation or battery information), or combine numerous elements on-screen at the same time. This means the driver can follow navigation directions or keep track of battery energy efficiency, while passengers can choose their favourite songs or check the weather forecast. The infotainment system also controls vehicle recharging preferences and Sound Mood Lighting settings.
The widescreen in the centre of the dashboard is complemented by a 7.0-inch TFT-LCD supervision instrument cluster, displaying essential driving information to the driver.
Full range of advanced active safety systems available
A range of passive and active safety systems ensure that occupants remain as well protected as possible on every journey. Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) help to reduce many of the inherent hazards and stresses of driving.
Available technologies include Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW) and Blind-spot Collision-avoid Assist-Rear (BCA-R), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go, and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and High Beam Assist (HBA). Lane Follow Assist (LFA), controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front. Between speeds of 0 and 130 kph, LFA uses camera and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front, while monitoring road markings to keep the Soul EV in the centre of the lane. In addition, the Soul EV features a Rear View Monitor (RVM) with Parking Assist guidance and Rear Cross-traffic Collision-avoidance Assist (RCCA).
As for passive safety features, the Soul EV is fitted with up to seven airbags (dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, and driver’s side knee airbag), as well as a suite of electronic vehicle safety systems. These include Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management system as standard, incorporating traction control and electronic stability control.
The Soul EV’s body is made up of a blend of steel and aluminium, maximising torsional rigidity while keeping body weight low. With a higher proportion of Advanced High-Strength Steel and hot-stamped steel components than its predecessor, as well as new aluminium side-sill reinforcements, the more rigid bodyshell reduces road vibrations and enhances occupant safety in the event of a collision.
Built in Korea and on-sale in Europe this spring
The new Soul EV is produced at Kia’s Gwangju manufacturing facility in Korea. It goes on-sale in selected European markets from the end of Q1 2019. UK specification, on-sale date and pricing will be announced in due course.