The Soul EV builds on the funky charm of its predecessor by maintaining the quirky styling, but upping the performance dramatically. It’s zippy to drive and boasts a very impressive 280-mile range on a single charge. If you’re in the market for an electric car, it’s definitely one of the first cars to check out.
In its fully-loaded launch trim the Soul EV is priced around the same level as its e-Niro stablemate. Despite being more expensive Kia says the electric version sold more than the previous petrols and diesels combined so it’s little wonder the Soul is now an EV only model. The closest comparison is with the Hyundai Kona Electric, which is basically the same car underneath. The upfront price is equivalent but the Kia costs a little more on a monthly PCP, though Hyundai lets you spread the cost over a longer term. You might also be considering the Peugeot e-2008 and, with an equivalent spec, this is also on a par price-wise, though has less range and isn’t as powerful. Running costs for an EV are obviously very attractive, especially if you can charge at home and for company drivers reaping the rewards of huge Benefit In Kind savings. Factor that in and an EV like the Soul looks very attractive.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Kia Soul
Kia has an excellent reputation for reliability and scores highly on the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey. Should anything go wrong, however, Kia offers an excellent seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which includes the battery and electric motor. This is a plus if you’re weighing it up against the closely related Hyundai Kona Electric, which comes with a less generous five-year warranty.
Expert rating: 5/5
Safety for a Kia Soul
At launch Kia is offering the Soul EV in one all-singing, all dancing trim level with all the safety kit you could ever want. So, you get seven airbags, two Isofix mounts in the rear and all the usual features you’d expect of a modern family car. Driver aids include a system to keep you between the white lines on the motorway, blind spot sensors, an alert if something is crossing your path when reversing out of a parking space or driveway, sensors to alert you to obstacles in front of you and brake automatically if you don’t react, self-dipping headlights and a warning system if the car thinks you’re getting drowsy and need to take a break.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Kia Soul
Extra kilos are traditionally considered a bad thing and the Soul EV is a heavy car but, like many electric vehicles, Kia turns this into an advantage by putting the chunky battery pack low in the car. This helps handling and makes it feel securely tied down to the road, reducing the top-heavy sensation you get in regular SUVs. The ride quality strikes a decent balance between body control and comfort too, even on the potholed winter roads we tested it on. The steering is likewise well-weighted and light enough to reduce effort without feeling vague. With no engine noise to hide behind any clonks, rattles or wind noise are more noticeable in an electric car too and, again, the Soul EV shows good refinement, all of which adds up to relaxing experience at the wheel.
The Soul’s upright stance and height make for confidence inspiring visibility too, which is a bonus in town driving. We’ve not racked up any big miles in it yet but there were no complaints from the front seats and the rear bench is reasonably spacious. The boot isn’t huge and if you need more space for stuff you may be better off in the electric Peugeot 2008 but, in all other respects, the Soul EV is a decently practical car with few compromises compared with conventionally powered cars of equivalent size.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Kia Soul
For its first year on sale the Soul EV comes in a single introductory trim level with all the bells and whistles. Leather is standard, the front seats heated and the tough looking SUV Pack is also included, adding plastic cladding to the wheelarches and a pseudo 4x4 look. There’s also tons of tech, including a head up display projecting speed and navigation info into your line of sight on the windscreen, a large central touchscreen for the infotainment and built-in navigation (you can plug your phone in and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead if you prefer), a wireless charging pad and premium Harman/Kardon sound system. It looks pretty cool inside too, even if the plastics don’t feel quite up to the standard of more premium rivals.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Kia Soul
For the time being there’s just one version of the Soul EV for the UK market and the good news is it’s the more powerful one with 201 horsepower and the bigger 64kWh battery. This means significantly improved performance and much greater range than the previous Soul EV, power almost doubling and the official range now 280 miles, though you’ll find this can be reduced significantly on wintry days when you’re using lights, wipers, heated seats and the rest. These figures more or less match the related Hyundai Kona Electric so you can choose the one you like the look of best or offers the most favourable deal, safe in the knowledge they’ll perform pretty much the same.
The power delivery is typically silent in the electric style but can be a little abrupt, to the point where wheelspin has to be contained by the traction control on wet roads. It’s fast though, with performance to match any equivalent petrol or diesel car around town or on the motorway. In the absence of gears paddles on the steering wheel let you adjust the regeneration and, in its maximum mode, it’s strong enough to effectively drive the car on one pedal, lifting off the accelerator enough to bring you to a halt without touching the brakes while simultaneously charging the battery. For smoother driving out of town you can back it off or just run it in the automatic mode.