Kia Soul EV gets one-off 'Boardmasters' surfing-inspired upgrade
Sand tyres, custom roof rack and remodelled interior set beach-ready Soul EV apart
Kia has undertaken a one-off transformation of one of its Soul EV electric family SUVs to mark its sponsorship of the Boardmasters surfing and music festival in Cornwall. A pre-production example – which would otherwise be recycled – has been upgraded into a dune-buggy-style vehicle, with extensive modifications inside and out.
The existing Soul EV powertrain of a 201bhp electric motor and 64kWh battery have been left intact, but the stock 17-inch alloy wheels have been replaced with bright white 16-inch steel rims, wrapped in huge Maxxis Bighorn sand tyres that measure 30 inches in diameter – so big that the car's bulkhead and front footwells had to be modified to clear space.
To aid with 'dune bashing', there's also fully independent suspension with custom adaptors and modified struts. A three-inch lift was needed to accommodate the wheels and tyres, while the track width has also been increased slightly and the suspension geometry has been tweaked. Ground clearance has been more than doubled from 153 to 310mm at the front, and to 320mm at the back.
Kia hasn't released revised performance or efficiency figures for the Boardmasters car, as it's strictly a one-off and won't be going into production. However, the company does admit that "the significant changes to the wheels, tyres and suspension are likely to affect the standard car’s official 280-mile electric range".
Further changes visible on the outside of the car include a custom-built steel roof rack for holding a pair of surfboards, while still allowing the tailgate to open fully. Eye-catching decals have been applied to the standard Neptune Blue paint finish, while roof-mounted solar panels (for powering auxiliary appliances such as a mini fridge) and spotlights are fitted in custom housings.
Inside, the boot and rear-seat area has been totally remodelled. There's now a wooden 'deck' area made out of white-stained sustainable spruce, along with a foldout bench seat made of reclaimed wood and a swing-out arm that can be used for drying a damp wetsuit after a day spent surfing.
Kia will be showing off its creation throughout the Boardmasters event, which takes place from 11-15 August at Fistral Beach in Cornwall. This isn't the first time the Korean brand has used one of its pre-production cars for promotional purposes in the UK: in 2019, a Kia Stinger four-door coupe was turned into a stripped-out track car called the GT420. Nissan has got in on the act, too, creating a rugged rescue vehicle out of a Leaf and an ice-cream van out of an e-NV200.
Volkswagen ID.3 facelift due in spring 2023
Tesla Semi truck showcases 500-mile range as first examples delivered