Kia has saved one of its pre-production cars from the crusher and turned it into a weird beach cruiser. I guess that makes it part of the reuse-reduce-recycle loop to prove that it’s hip and very much into being eco-conscious. But you know what? It works!
This Soul EV build is a one-off, named after the event where it’ll be on display, the 2021 Boardmasters Festival. It’s a yearly surfing competition and series of concerts held in Cornwall, UK, which is coming back after a two-year hiatus. This Kia is for surfers but I’m sure boogie boarders could use it just as well.
The EV has a fully independent suspension with modifications to the adaptors and struts, as well as its overall geometry to provide a three-inch lift. It raises its ground clearance to just over 12 inches, and makes room for 30-inch tires. The 17-inch wheels got tossed out in favor of 16-inch, white steelies, too. Fitting all of that did require modifying the bulkhead and foot wells, according to Kia.
The drivetrain is the same as before, making about 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft from its electric motor. Kia says that the EV’s range takes a hit due to all of the modifications, but the carmaker doesn’t say exactly how much the mods decrease from the Soul EV’s standard range of 280 miles.
In case you were wondering, the solar cells on the roof are not there for the drivetrain. They’re for the extra tech onboard, like the off road lightning and the mini fridge. The solar charging system is fully independent, so it doesn’t affect the Soul EV’s electrical operation, other than adding weight, I guess.
The interior is also reworked, having been stripped from the backseat to the boot — err trunk. In place of the rear seats there’s a wooden storage deck, a folding bench and a drying rack for wetsuits.
I already liked the Kia Soul. It’s another entry into the box-on-wheels segment, which Honda once ruled with the Element. If nothing else, this can be a timely reminder that Honda needs to hurry the hell up and make a new one. The Element didn’t need a special edition to be a great beach car, but this Soul EV shows that Kia could be a redesign away from making a suitable replacement.