Kia Soul EV, electrifying, everyday

In Car Reviews, Kia by Kieran Bicknell

Electric cars are somewhat of a talking point right now and the Kia Soul EV is worth gassing about.

The UK Government has recently set out a ban on the sale of new ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars by 2035, with the shock inclusion of Hybrid vehicles within this category. This leaves only fully electric vehicles free to be sold from new after this deadline, and as history has taught us, progression comes fastest in our times of need.

As if on cue; please welcome the Kia Soul EV to the stage. After the success of its stablemate the Kia E-Niro, the Soul is the latest model to join the group of cars sold by Kia in electric-only form. For the European market, no engines are available – the single powertrain option comes in the form of a 201bhp equivalent, 1-speed automatic electric motor. A plethora of mainstream EVs are now available in the form of Teslas, various offerings from Nissan and Renault and of course the bonkers Porsche Taycan (amongst others). Still, few other than Kias’ own have really nailed the ‘affordable’ family car niche yet, so they have previous success in this sector to build upon.

You see, its not the most dynamically exciting car in the world, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a well-proportioned – if slightly ungainly looking – SUV that will comfortably seat five and all the luggage you could ever reasonably need in your day-to-day lives. Practicality and comfort are the names of the game here, and the Soul has both of these in spades.

During the test drive, it became clear that you can use this as a perfectly viable alternative to your fossil-fuel-powered everyday car. With a claimed combined range of 280 miles, this is more than enough for everyday driving and should last most people a few days of commuting without needing to charge. An 80% charge takes just over 50 minutes from a 100kw charger which is a perfectly acceptable time. It is more likely however that most owners will instead ‘trickle’ charge their cars overnight at home, where a full charge from flat will take 9hrs 35mins on a home ‘box’ 7.2kw charger, meaning you can put your car on charge overnight and it will be ready to go in the morning.

Driving characteristics are much the same as any SUV of this size, being better suited to long, laid-back journeys and town driving than any sort of vigorous activity. That’s not to say the Soul doesn’t have some ‘Soul’ of its own (please excuse the terrible pun!) – Put it into ‘sport’ mode and the instant pick up available from the electric motors will propel you from 0-60 in 7.6s, though due to the instantaneous nature of this power it feels far quicker. Normal driving is better suited in ‘normal’ or ‘eco’ modes, and the regeneration level can be adjusted in any of the modes using the paddles on the back of the steering wheel.

Ride quality is good if a little on the bouncy side, especially in the rear of the car; Though around town it is silky-smooth, furthering the impression that the Soul will be best-suited to urban environments where the benefit of EVs is most apparent. The seating positions and space on offer in the Soul are both very impressive, with plenty of visibility for the driver and gargantuan amounts of room for passengers in both the front and rear of the car, making this the ideal eco-friendly family hauler. Luggage space is also generous at 315l with the seats upright, or a very respectable 1,339l with the seats down – helped by the near-vertical sides of the car, making it a very capable load hauler also.

The Launch Edition cars are highly specced indeed; Included are heated front seats and steering wheel, a 10.25” touchscreen display including nav, in-built reversing camera and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity. Parking sensors are also of great use, along with the usual plethora of safety features we’ve come to expect from Kias’ offerings, including (but not limited to) adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. Of particular note is the 10-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system with subwoofer, which is a welcome addition and follows on from the original Soul being influenced by music (complete with flashing lights and bright accents). Additionally, the incredibly useful head-up display (HUD) for the driver, which means your eyes are naturally more drawn to the road rather than looking down to check your speed or the navigation every few seconds.

One of the biggest anxieties that people cite about purchasing EVs is the doubt surrounding the longevity of them, the maintenance costs and the potential for battery issues in such new technology. Kia has this one in the bag, however, as their famed 7- year / 100,000-mile warranty applies even to the Soul EV. Not only should this help calm a lot of nerves and encourage purchasers, but it also demonstrates a massive show of faith by Kia in their new product and the viability of EVs as a long-standing mode of transportation.

At £33,795 OTR for the car tested (after government grant), the cost is still a significant factor in EV purchasing and there’s no escaping that this is a large sum of money for a mid-sized SUV. The spec list almost covers a side of A4 and the practicality and usability of the Soul are beyond what many people expect from an EV. The price remains to be an issue for most, and this will be the deciding factor for many whether they switch to an EV, or decide to hold on to their diesel or petrol cars in the hope that overall prices may come down as the technology and batteries improve.

The Soul EV represents a significant commitment from Kia, offering it with only one powertrain in electric-only form. With their warranty to back it up, it showcases a real step towards electrification and their belief in its feasibility. The high price aside, this is an incredibly well-specced, usable everyday EV for all the family and represents a glimpse into the future of family motoring; If this is the future for SUVs, then it’s a bright future indeed.

Car reviewed: Kia Soul EV ‘First Edition’, on the road price £33,795 after plug-in car grant 0-62mph 7.6secs Top speed 104mph Engine 64Kw Electric Motor Battery Pack Lithium -ion polymer Fuel Economy Combined 40.4mpg CO2 emissions 194g/km Max Power 201bhp@3800-8000rpm Torque 395Nm@0-3600rpm Warranty 7-years 100k miles

Kieran Bicknell

Motoring writer

Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.

“I had never been able to get a car that said how much I cared about the environment until I drove electric.” – Alexandra Paul