Kia Soul EV

All-electric mini SUV is an ideal second car

7.6
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 14 reviews
  • Low cost of running
  • Intelligent air-conditioning
  • Well equipped
  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Few options
 

£29,995 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

- MPG

Review

The Kia Soul EV is an all-electric version of the Korean firm’s boxy-yet-eye-catching Soul SUV.

In comparison to its conventional fuel-powered versions, the Soul EV is not just cheaper to run, but it’s greener as well. Practicality takes a little hit thanks to batteries taking up some interior space, but on the whole, the Kia Soul EV puts up a nice show even when compared to established rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe.

The Soul EV carries forward the regular Soul’s cabin design, but benefits from the use of recyclable materials. While there are no options available for the EV, it’s specced with all the Soul’s top additions including air-conditioning and a touchscreen-based navigation and infotainment system.

In terms of space, the Soul EV has a bit less room for luggage, thanks to the batteries taking up some interior room. It still has 280 litres of boot space though, and can easily compete with similarly sized hatchbacks. Since the batteries are located underneath the passenger compartment, the floor is 80 mm higher than before, but as one critic points out, Kia has remade the seats to offer similar headroom as the regular Soul.

What stands out the most is the intelligent air-conditioning system, which can regulate the temperature in only the occupied part of the vehicle. It can also use the heat from the electric system and air-conditioner components to warm the cabin when required.

Other than the ‘tank’ range, the most affected aspect of a car when it switches from conventional fuels to alternate fuels like electricity is the way it drives. Batteries and other electric components add weight, which often results in sluggish performance. And with the added weight, the driving dynamics don’t improve, either.

In case of the Kia Soul EV, it’s partially true. One critic points out weaker performance than its competitors, especially at higher speeds. It’s reasonably quick off the line – it has a claimed 0-60 mph time of 10.8 seconds, which isn’t bad for a 1.5-tonne electric car. Critics agree that the ride is well sorted and comfortable. Because all the extra weight is placed low and closer to the ground, the Soul EV isn’t too top-heavy.

With an additional 27 per cent of chassis strengthening, reviewers mention that the Soul EV is composed during cornering, and inspires confidence.

The electric motor in the Kia Soul EV produces 109hp and 210lb ft, comes mated to a single speed automatic gearbox and is claimed to offer a range of a little above 130 miles with a top speed of 90mph.

You can’t expect electrifying performance given that it has to propel 1.5 tonnes of Soul EV, but on the whole, critics say the Kia Soul doesn’t do too bad a job. In comparison to the rivals, the range and top speeds are similar.

The 27kWh battery (lithium ion) is said to take up to 13 hours for a full charge if connected to a domestic socket in the UK. The wallbox charger brings down the time to just five hours, and with a fast-charging socket, 80 per cent charge can be achieved in just 33 minutes.

Euro NCAP tested the Kia Soul EV and the results showed adequate protection for both adult and child occupants (it scored more than 80 per cent in both tests). The pedestrian protection around the bumper area was good, but the bonnet area failed to offer protection, hence resulting in the low scores. A four-star overall rating is what the Soul EV gets as a result.

It gets six airbags, electronic stability control, and Isofix child seat mounts as standard. It doesn’t get the active safety systems that you’d find in a Volkswagen Golf, for example (such as lane assist and autonomous braking), so you may want to look elsewhere if you’re a safety-gadget fan.

Being an electric vehicle, the purchase price for the Soul EV is high. After the £4,500 government grant, the price is fixed at £24,195, which is more than both the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf.

The car is offered with cheap maintenance plans, which should mean you don’t spend too much on getting the vehicle serviced, either. And the seven-year and 100,000-mile warranty should make living with the Soul EV a trouble-free experience. But can you get over the initial purchase price?

Conclusion

The Soul EV’s quirky looks might help Kia sell what seems like a well-made electric vehicle, but price is one thing that doesn’t work in its favour.

Add a little more and the options are bound to increase. In isolation, the Kia is commendable, but in the real world, a slightly more competitive pricing would have helped.

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