Driving the Kia Soul EV round central London made petrol and diesel power seem so yesterday. You actually feel sympathy for people driving around in Bentleys. Kia says it has been working on electric vehicles for 30 years, but only now thinks the time is right to make one available to the public. Kia, which now sells nearly three million cars a year, is starting in a typically small way with intended annual sales expected to be around a couple of hundred.
If you need a compact electric SUV crossover hatchback, the Kia Soul is it. As with all Kias, the Soul EV has a seven year warranty which should give confidence about the life of the battery pack.
With acceleration to 60 mph taking 10.8 seconds the Kia Soul EV has adequate performance for a town car especially with town planners’ mania for traffic lights. Performance is smooth and serene and in mode B the regenerative braking is strong. Drive and Brake modes can also be operated in Eco mode to help maximise the car’s range. Maximum speed is claimed to be 90 mph but there was no opportunity to verify this.
The permanent magnet synchronous AC electric motor produces 109 bhp from 2,730 rpm to 8,000 rpm, while maximum torque of 211 lbs ft arrives instantly and continues until 2,730 rpm. Claimed class-leading energy density of 200 Wh/kg gives the car a projected range approaching 132 miles.
The rack and pinion power steering is quick and light and the car’s shape (and reversing camera) makes it easy to manoeuvre into parking spaces. A button push makes the steering even lighter for parking. The 275 kg battery pack has actually improved the handling of the Soul. Not only has it lowered its centre of gravity but the weight distribution of the Soul EV has been altered slightly too.
It is several percentage points less front heavy though you don’t really notice a difference on a slow speed town drive. The suspension settings felt stiffer which helped cornering precision. Braking, with large discs front and rear, was predictable and progressive.
Read more: Next Green Car