Kia Motors unveiled the new Soul EV, a completely new iteration of Kia’s award-winning electric compact crossover, at the LA Auto Show. The new Soul EV has a new liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer 64 kWh battery pack with Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge as standard equipment.
The Soul EV is currently being tested to ascertain its estimated range, with the overall battery range due to be announced early in 2019.
With 204 ps and 395 N·m of torque (up from 285 N·m in the outgoing model), the new Soul EV accelerates more strongly than its predecessor. Handling and driving dynamics are also much improved, with the adoption of new fully-independent rear suspension.
The new Soul EV also provides tools for drivers to customize their driving experience and their battery usage, with four drive modes—Eco, Comfort, Sport and Eco+—which automatically adjust power output to the traction motor. The driving modes also control the level of regenerative braking on offer, air conditioning and heating settings, and enable drivers to set speed limits to help manage operating efficiency in different driving conditions.
The Soul EV’s smart regenerative braking is operated via paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, providing drivers with the ability to slow the car and capture more kinetic energy, adding extra range. Drivers can choose from four regenerative braking levels (0 to 3), depending on desired driving smoothness, enjoyment and efficiency. The regenerative braking system also features a ‘Brake and Hold’ system, which enables drivers to use the paddle shifters to bring the car to a full stop while harvesting kinetic energy.
In addition, the smart regenerative braking system adjusts the braking level based on a vehicle being detected in front of the Soul EV, creating smoother coast-down driving, especially when descending a steep road.
The system is paired with a Smart Eco Pedal Guide display on the instrument cluster, which keeps the driver aware of real-time battery usage based on accelerator pedal input.
The Soul EV features restyled front and rear bumpers, for a smoother, more aerodynamic appearance. It features a solid insert in place of the conventional Soul’s front grille, with a door housing the charging socket conveniently located on the driver’s side. The Soul EV’s unique LED headlamps are integrated into the upper ‘brow’ of the front of the car, which itself extends the full width of the car for a wide, stable appearance. The EV’s ‘face’ is finished with unique fog lamps, while, in profile, the zero-emissions Soul gets its own five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheel design, distinct from other models in the Soul line-up.
Depending on market, the Soul EV is available with a suite of Kia’s advanced driver-assistance systems, and a long list of standard and optional equipment.
In-cabin technology includes a high-tech ‘shift-by-wire’ rotary shifter, while the Soul’s infotainment system is based on a 10.25-inch color touchscreen with rear-view monitor and parking guidance. The infotainment package is supported by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity with voice recognition. The system is paired with a six-speaker audio system with USB input and steering-wheel mounted audio controls.
Depending on market, the car is fitted with up to seven airbags (dual front air bags, dual front seat-mounted side air bags, side curtain air bags with rollover sensor, and a driver's side knee air bag), as well as a suite of vehicle safety systems. These include anti-lock braking, traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, pedestrian warning system and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Active safety is just as important, with the Soul available with a range of advanced driver-assistance systems, depending on market. Available systems include Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind Spot Collision Warning (BSW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (available) and Reverse Parking Distance Warning.
Unique to the Soul EV is a revamped ‘UVO’ telematics system, allowing owners to monitor and control a long range of vehicle operations. Drivers have access to notifications of battery and charging status, real-time charging station updates and scheduled charging functionality. Panic notifications enable the vehicle to send an alert to the server if the panic alarm is triggered, dialling 911 emergency services and providing the car’s position via GPS—this opens a live microphone so that emergency workers can communicate with vehicle occupants. The UVO telematics sytems also offers ‘Send2Car’ points of interest (POI) and waypoint functionality, allowing owners to plan a route or road trip with waypoints, and send it directly to the Soul EV’s navigation system.
Buyers can choose from two trims: the Soul EV and the Soul EV Designer Collection. The Designer Collection model offers everything from the standard Soul EV, plus a series of additional features.
Built at the Gwangju plant in Korea, the new Soul EV goes on sale in the US in the first half of 2019, with Kia’s global markets to follow. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.