IT’S HARD TO FORGET THE LAUNCH of KIA’s stylish, urban lifestyle-inspired Soul six years ago. Moreover it’s hard to forget the fun loving, mildly disturbing, hamsters that found their way from the spinning wheel to riding in style, in mass Technicolor, no less, thanks to the discovery of the “new way to roll” KIA Soul. While the Soul may have appeared to be, and for all intensive purposes was, a gambit of concept car and novel pragmatics that could have easily fallen to scrutiny because of its oddness and been yet another Edsel, cast off into obscurity, it managed to stake a claim in the hearts of consumers. It had some solid predecessors that may have inspired its design — most notably the Nissan Cube that was marketed in North America circa 2009. The Scion xB predates the Soul but has seemed to fade into obscurity. The Soul has staying power. So, it’s no surprise that the latest incarnation of the Soul is electric — literally. It was about four in the afternoon when I pulled onto my street to see a twotone Soul, in all its sleek boxy glory, resting in my driveway. Its shiny Caribbean Blue body, with a milk-white roof, made it look like a giant matchbox car waiting for me to unwrap and play with it. I’d just come off a week of driving the KIA Sedona, so I was pretty comfortable with the general layout of the KIA cockpit — keyless ignition, LCD display, easy NAV controls, and a pleasant jingle upon startup and shutdown. The one thing I didn’t expect — or rather had forgotten about since it had been easily two years since I had been behind the wheel of a fully electric car was the silence. I must have turned the car on and shut it off twice before my numbskull self realized it was actually on. It was something that was easy to forget on the road and took a little getting used to, especially at stoplights where it was the instigator of more than one awkward conversational silence. There was a slight zipping sound at acceleration and that was it. The Eco-Friendly Emissary To The Urban Driver wheel. KIA’s Soul EV is the next step in the evolution of electric autos.

While the Soul may have appeared to be a gambit of concept car and novel pragmatics … it managed to stake a claim in the hearts of consumers. I had to be careful given the fact that there is no delay between the depression of the “gas” pedal and full torque get up and go acceleration. It’s been said that electric cars can, off the line, beat some of the gnarliest sport cars on the market. I can say the “suck you into your bucket” factor was present in the Soul EV. My drives around town were quick and pleasant. The handling for such a — physically speaking — bulky car was quick and responsive. I wouldn’t be playing wheel-man in the thing, but if there ever was a car that had the space to pull a worthwhile heist, this was it. The 40/60 seats makes the Soul utilitarian to the “T”. The only draw back was the Soul’s driving range, which was limited to about 90 some miles on a full charge — which took almost 12 hours to achieve when starting just under one third charge from the standard wall socket in my garage. I was averaging about a mile and a half per true street mile; however this ratio was WWW.AZSAL.COM AZSPORTS&LIFESTYLE 65
inverted completely when I took it on the freeway. In the Valley where freeway driving is almost unavoidable, the Soul EV meets its match. But with government incentives still in existence the EV would make a wicked second car to scoot around the city or the suburbs in, without a doubt. The Soul EV stays true to its roots — a progressive car with edge and curb appeal. The hamsters might have to turn down the jams to save on mileage but it’s a small price to pay with the true savings an electric future will bring.