On board - Kia reveals one-off Soul EV Boardmasters Edition

Kia UK has revealed the Kia Soul EV Boardmasters Edition today, a ‘recycled’ pre-production car saved from the crusher to instead live out its days on the beach.

Reimagined exclusively for surfers, the Soul EV Boardmasters Edition is a special one-off car created to mark the launch of Boardmasters 2021 in Cornwall (www.boardmasters.com). Kia UK is the automotive partner for the major surfing and music festival, which takes place across two stunning sites on the Cornish coast. A world-class line-up of music comes to Watergate Bay, while exhilarating surf competitions take place on Fistral Beach, the home of British surfing.

Boardmasters takes place from 11-15 August and Kia will exhibit the Soul EV Boardmasters Edition throughout the event for festival-goers to explore for themselves.

This is the second time Kia UK has rescued a pre-production vehicle from the scrap heap to create something radically different. It follows in the footsteps of the powerful Kia Stinger GT420, which was first revealed in 2019 as a one-off track car.

The Soul EV Boardmasters Edition carves a different course, however, created for a more relaxing pace – and for those who refuse to go round and round in circles, nor be bound by track limits, noise rules, or lap times.

The zero-emissions Soul EV represented the perfect car for the project, and fits closely with the Boardmasters ethos of sustainability and lessening one’s impact on the environment. The donor car’s 64 kWh long-range battery pack and 150 kW (201 bhp) electric motor remain unaltered, but now power a car which features a variety of unique new features and special modifications.

Designed for surfers

The Soul EV already stands out on the road thanks to its distinctive, boxy design; the Boardmasters Edition vehicle takes this to a new level entirely. Its stock 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels and 215/55 R17 tyres have been replaced with 16-inch bright white steel wheels and chunky 265/75 R16 Maxxis Bighorn sand tyres, renowned for their use in cross-country competitions and rally raids. With each tyre growing to 30 inches in diameter, this change alone necessitated significant reworking to the bulkhead and front foot wells.

The fully independent suspension also features new custom adaptors and modified struts, with a three-inch lift to accommodate the new wheels and tyres. It also boasts a modest increase in track width, from 1,565 mm to 1,675 mm at the front, and 1,575 mm to 1,690 mm at the rear. The suspension’s geometry has been adjusted to suit.

Thanks to the raised ground clearance (more than doubled, from 153 mm, to 310 mm at the front and 320 mm at the back), chunky tyres, and high 395 Nm torque output from its motor, the car is more able than the standard car to overcome rougher terrain and uneven ground on the way to the coast.

The significant changes to the Soul EV’s wheels, tyres and suspension are likely to affect the standard car’s official 280-mile electric range. However, thanks to its 64 kWh battery pack and efficient motor, the Boardmasters Edition car is still likely to offer greater driving range than certain other electric vehicles at a similar price point to the standard road-going Soul EV.

One of the more striking features is its custom-built steel roof rack. Constructed out of lightweight steel tubing – which can be easily recycled at the end of its life – the rack has been hand-crafted exclusively for the Soul EV Boardmasters Edition to accommodate a pair of 7ft9 Tahe Bic Malibu surfboards. The rack’s shape and relatively low profile allows the car to avoid overhead height restrictors while also enabling the tailgate to open fully to access the boot. That said, the total height of the car with boards fitted still comes to 1,950 mm – 255 mm taller than the Kia Sorento, the largest car Kia sells in the UK.

The car keeps its nautical ‘Neptune Blue’ metallic paint and black roof, but also features a series of bright white decals which flow across the bodywork. These shapes emphasise the bold shapes and straight lines of the car’s design, while also helping it stand out even further.

Decked-out interior

The modifications continue inside, with the removal of the Soul EV’s rear bench seats in favour of something more practical for tackling sea and sand.

The boot area has been totally remodelled, with the existing 315-litre boot expanded to make full use of the Soul EV’s cabin, up to the back of the two front seats. With the rear seats removed, the larger boot has been turned into an expansive wooden deck, constructed out of PEFC-certified spruce (from forests managed sustainably in line with strict international standards). Stained white to give a lighter seaside vibe to the cabin, the deck also protects the cabin from the wet. Its surface also traps grains of sand and prevents them from falling into hard-to-reach cracks between seats.

Opening the tailgate also gives access to a fold-out bench, an open-air seat made out of reclaimed wood providing somewhere to enjoy a drink with friends. This is accompanied by a swing-out arm, which extends out of the tailgate from the roof of the cabin and provides somewhere to hang and dry a pair of damp wetsuits. Users can also hang a towel off the arm, to create a slightly more private changing area.

The board rack is paired with a roof-mounted solar panel and a pair of Lazer ST4 Evolution LED spotlights. The spotlights provide a powerful source of light for early mornings and late evenings on the beach, and are in custom housings to protect them from the elements or potential damage when loading or unloading boards.

The solar charging system can also power a mini fridge or other auxiliary appliances with renewable energy while the driver is away from their car. The system operates independently of the car’s main battery pack so as to have zero impact on vehicle efficiency. Fitted with a 12V leisure battery and mains inverter, it can therefore power the LED lamp and other electrical devices without reducing vehicle range.

The front of the cabin is unchanged over the standard car, giving the Boardmasters Edition a comfortable space for a driver and passenger. It features the same 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it easy for the driver to navigate to their favourite spots. The standard car’s 10-speaker Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System also remains, negating the need for drivers to bring their own portable speakers to the beach.

Soul EV at Boardmasters 2021

The fully electric Soul EV Boardmasters Edition will be exhibited on Kia’s stand at Boardmasters 2021 from 11-15 August for visitors to see for themselves. It will be displayed alongside the Kia e-Niro, the brand’s best-selling EV.

Kia's stand at Boardmasters, dubbed the 'Inspiration Zone', will host a series of bespoke sessions for festival visitors on surfing, yoga, and fitness, in line with Kia’s 'Movement that inspires' brand ethos and the themes of the festival.