THE new Kia Soul is the first electric car I have driven that does not concentrate solely on promoting its energy source.
Yes, the new Soul is all electric and not a hybrid concoction. Its 64kWh electric drivetrain produces an impressive range capability of 280 miles.
But this EV beats other electric cars when it comes to that other precious commodity that motorists obsess about — all their lives — interior space.
It seems that while carmakers have been keen to create an EV that does not actually look like an electric car, with this third generation Soul, Kia has gone a step further.
The South Korean carmaker has already brought to market the most natural looking EV, the e-Niro, one of the best EVs I have driven because it looks like a “normal” car.
The all-new Kia Soul brings us a refined boxy Soul look that you either love or hate. But in doing so Kia has produced an EV with bags of interior room.
Not only that. The Kia Soul EV is lightness personified to drive. You breeze along, the steering and handling demonstrating a deftness of touch that would have been difficult to imagine in a car of this size, and with this power source, a decade ago.
There is, it has to be said, a certain dislocation of involvement between driver and car that is common with all EVs. And yet the new Soul is pleasing to drive. I found it especially quick and easy to nip into town. Parking could not be easier.
This type of car is becoming more popular.
And for those that want space along with electric power the new Soul seems to fit the bill.
In 2018 — the outgoing Soul model’s final year on sale, Kia sold more of the zero-emissions Soul EV in Europe than petrol and diesel versions combined.
The Soul EV breaks new ground because the extended-range electric powertrain is standard. There is no option of an internal combustion engine.
Back to that interior space that so impressed me when I attended the UK launch of the Soul EV.
At 4,220mm in length, the Soul EV is 80mm longer than the car it replaces. Boot space of 315 litres with the seats up, extended to 1,339 litres when folded down.
The statistics may not mean much but with room for five occupants and black leather upholstery fitted as standard, the Soul EV feels like a large comfortable vehicle inside.
This feel-good factor is enhanced by the retention of the signature “tweeter” speakers that bookend the dashboard.
The car also comes with a wireless phone charger at the base of the dashboard, heated front seats and a premium Harman/Kardon sound system. A Head-Up Display system 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.
The new model is the first Kia in Europe to offer UVO Connect telematics system.
UVO Connect says Kia “is designed to bring driving into the digital era”. The aim is to connect drivers to “the world around to provide them with invaluable information — via the in-car touchscreen, and on their smartphone”.
UVO features the Kia Live system, housed within the 10.25in TFT LCD widescreen in the centre of the Soul EV’s dashboard.
The system uses its own eSIM chip 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.
Importantly, the UVO system shows drivers charging station locations, charger availability, and connection compatibility.