Long-legged Kia Soul EV boasts impressive real-world range

Alex Ingram
January 07, 2015

Kia’s electric family car achieves an impressive real-world range in independent tests

If there is one factor stopping the electric car market from flourishing, it’s range anxiety. Put simply, driving an electric car gives you the simple fear of running out of electricity at a really inconvenient time.

Kia’s now done wonders for the reputation of electric vehicles by proving that its Soul EV can not only match its claimed electric range, but exceed it in normal driving conditions.

How? Read on.

Neutrally conducted by eco-motoring website Next Green Car, the aim of Kia’s test was to show that the Korean manufacturer’s Soul EV was more than capable of delivering an acceptable range in everyday driving. The test itself took place through Wiltshire and Somerset, with driving environments ranging from cities, villages and countryside. There was even a trip along the M4, to offer the most representative figure possible.

The weather during the test was, handily, a realistic rainy British day: temperatures barely climbed above eight degrees Celsius, and further drain was inflicted on the battery due to the use of the windscreen wipers and headlights. Just to make sure it was absolutely clear this was an accurate test, the team made use of the Soul’s other battery-intensive equipment such as the heated seats and satellite navigation.

So, how did the Soul do?

It appears it all went even better than Kia had hoped. The overall mileage achieved was remarkably similar to what Kia claims the Soul EV can manage in perfect conditions. The testers covered a total of 125.3 miles, at which point, the on-board charge indicator suggested that the battery was good for another nine miles of driving.

A diagnostics check confirmed this, even suggesting that the battery had 13 per cent of power remaining. Given that Kia claims a range of 132 miles, and that this test was conducted in less than ideal conditions, it should certainly give some confidence to buyers in the future.

Watch the video below to see the test in action.

How does it compare to other electric cars?

Based on other real world tests, it seems that the Kia has made a good case for the Soul EV. In a separate experiment conducted by Which? The Renault Zoe only achieved 74.6 miles, while the BMW i3 fared a little better at 90.1. Given claimed ranges for these two stand at 130 and 118 miles respectively, it seems that Kia has done extremely well to not only match, but exceed their claimed range. Of course, these cars were driving on different roads, in different conditions, and driven by different people, but the Kia was hardly tested in a perfect environment itself, so it makes a very strong case for itself.

What does this mean for the EV?

A report by HR firm Ranstad in 2013 revealed the average weekly commute for UK workers to be 83.5 miles. Assuming you could match the range that the independent testers achieved with the Soul, you’d only need to top up the electricity once evey ten days or so.

If you’re happy with performance figures that are on a par with most superminis (though the instant torque on offer makes the Kia more sprightly at low speeds) and are willing to invest a little more for a higher purchase price, then it should be easy to enjoy the minimal running costs and silent motoring. It seems that the time is almost here when an EV can be considered a mass-market alternative to the internal combustion engine.