Zippy and surprisingly good, the Kia Soul EV ‘Explore’

In Car Reviews, Electric, Electric cars, Kia by Robin Roberts

The Kia Soul EV was the manufacturer’s first contemporary zero-emission vehicle


Car Reviewed: Kia Soul EV ‘Explore’ 64kWh 1-speed Auto


One of Kia’s earliest compact electric vehicles, this experience has been put to good use. However, the pandemic initially impacted on the 2019 Soul Maxx zero-emissions model. Still, now that that has passed, the improvements on the new third-generation Kia Soul EV have increased sales.

The original Maxx powertrain has been refined, and we have been testing it with the longer-range 64kWh battery and more powerful 210bhp motor. This combination will prove more suitable for many owners than the medium-range 39.2kWh battery and 134bhp motor tested a few months ago and introduced this year.

It’s a case of horses for courses, and you can save approximately £6,200 with the Urban model designed for commuting as opposed to the Explore for those who need to travel further between charges.

The Explore also has blind spot collision avoidance assist, safe exit warning, rear-cross traffic avoidance assist, and highway driving assist – sensors that detect potential dangers and prevent incidents and damage. Consider them an investment, not a cost.

When picking up a group of teens from school or university or transporting large pieces of furniture with the rear seat folded flat, the boxy design of the Kia Soul is practical, distinctive and useful.

Access is excellent from the sides and rear, and legroom and headroom are adequate, although elbow room in the back is restricted. In addition to the adjustable front seats, the driver can also modify the steering column and wheel for reach and rake.

Shared with the Urban, the Explore’s secondary controls are well-placed, efficient, and configured, so you do not have to constantly glance at the touchscreen to change settings, which is a safety feature in and of itself.

I enjoyed the large instruments displayed in front of the driver with a selectable centre panel and the large infotainment touchscreen in the fascia’s centre for navigation, phone, and media, among other features. For audiophiles, the sound system was superb.

Air conditioning was highly effective throughout, aided by four powered windows, large wipers front and back, and powerful washers. The Full led headlamps look great, bright and long-range with broad beams for conditions with poor visibility. The Kia Soul did not have a sunroof.

The cargo floor was two-tiered to accommodate the charger cable and to provide a functional but not voluminous space for luggage or shopping. Additionally, the ‘Explore’ obtains roof rails for the addition of a roof box or rack.

The more potent motor and larger battery complement the excellent handling dynamics of the third-generation Soul, with its improved multi-link rear suspension and front strut and coil springs, selectable-weight steering, and excellent progressive braking.

The Soul ‘Explore’ EV’s powertrain features a variable retardation and recuperation system that can be selected via the four driving modes or the power paddles on the steering column, allowing for single-pedal driving to maximise either range or power.

As with all events, commencing is as simple as entering the vehicle, pressing a button, and moving off, which can be as slow or rapid as desired. With fewer mechanical parts and a motor drive, electric vehicles provide instantaneous response and excellent acceleration.

The Soul Explore has enticing performance within a deceptively subdued body, and by judiciously selecting the sport mode, it makes overtaking smooth and quick.

The electric powertrain is nearly silent, with only a faint hum or buzz occasionally audible, and the only disturbance we detected came from the road and suspension, albeit at a low frequency.

The car felt nimble and was simple to park on country roads without being twitchy; it remained firmly on the road despite some bumpy turns and poor paving.

With the larger battery, I was more likely to use the Explore’s heated seats and steering wheel, as well as it’s air conditioning and heating, as it is very well equipped and can be quickly recharged at suitable power points; however, we could not get more than 226 miles between charges, which is significantly less than the manufacturer’s claim.

The three-pin plugged cable is an expensive add-on that should be a no-cost option, as some chargers do not use the speedier connectors, and you don’t want to be unable to use the vehicle.

I cannot conclude without praising KIA’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, likely the finest in the family car segment, a deciding factor for buyers, and a partial explanation for the brand’s success in the United Kingdom. In the case of KIA, you get what you pay for, and it’s worth every penny.

Author Rating 4.5/5


For: Abundant options for optimising economy or performance, exceptional comfort with excellent controls, handling, and visibility all around, and a very useful electric range.

Against: Intrusive road and suspension disturbances, limited rear seat space and a small trunk and an expensive three-pin cable as an optional extra.

Car reviewed: Kia Soul EV ‘Explore’ 64kWh

on the road price £39,045

  • 0-62mph 7.9secs
  • Top speed 104mph
  • Power Electric Motor / 64kWh battery
  • Electric Range WLTP Combined 280 miles
  • Max Power Engine 201bhp
  • Torque 395Nm
  • Dimensions MM 4200 L / 1800 W / 1610 H
  • CO2 emissions 0g/km
  • Transmission Single speed Automatic front-wheel drive
  • Bootspace 315 / 1339 1itres (seats folded)

Robin Roberts

Motoring Journalist

Robin contributes to a number of outlets in Wales and the UK, including the Driving Force editorial syndication agency feeding the biggest regional news and feature publishers in Britain.

Robin was the longest serving chairman of The Western Group of Motoring Writers. He specialises in the Welsh automotive sector and motor related businesses with interests in Wales and publishes WheelsWithinWales.uk which covers news, features, trade and motor sport in Wales.

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