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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
11:47 AM 17th August 2020

Kia Soul EV First Drive Review

The movement towards fully electric cars continues apace and last year I spent time with one of the best – the Kia e-Niro. Here was an electric family car with an easy 250-mile range, more than enough for most drivers.

What is it?

On test here is the Kia Soul EV, which shares many of the e-Niro’s mechanicals, but wraps them up in a rather distinctive body. Petrol and diesel variants of the Soul have now disappeared, so battery power is the sole survivor!

The 64kWh electric drivetrain boasts a heady 201bhp and gives a theoretical range of 280 miles on a combined cycle and up to 402 if remaining in the confines of the city. Bold claims.

The battery can be recharged to 80 percent in just 54 minutes if you can find a rapid 100kW charger, or 75 minutes with the more common 50kW offering. It is also possible to plug in to a 13-amp socket, though be prepared for a long wait if the battery is empty. Most buyers will no doubt have a proper home charger fitted.

Vital statistics

Kia Soul EV First Edition
Price £34,295 after government grant
64kW electric motor (201bhp)
1-speed automatic transmission
0-60mph in 7.6 seconds
Top speed 104mph
Range 280 miles (combined cycle)
7-year warranty

How does it drive?

Press the start button, engage drive and acceleration is surprisingly brisk. With no gears to change, the Soul EV pulls hard, leaving many a car with more sporting pretensions in its wake. Even at higher speeds, performance is brisk, especially if ‘Sport’ mode is selected.

There is a choice of modes, with ‘Eco’ the best for those seeking to eke out the absolute best range from the battery. ‘Normal’ worked for me just fine and driven gently I have no doubt that 250 miles plus is readily achievable without much effort.

Regenerative braking can be adjusted and when set to maximum, the car can be driven almost on the accelerator alone. This also boosts the car’s range, converting momentum into electrical energy.

The Soul EV boasts a comfortable ride, with only the deepest craters making their presence felt. There is some body roll when pressing on, but the Soul remains comfortable and composed at all time.

Wind and road noise are well suppressed and with no engine noise, there is nothing to compete with the sounds emanating from the Harmon Kardon premium sound system.

There’s ample space for four adults to travel in comfort, though the boot is a tad on the small side.

Should I buy one?

The Soul EV is one of the more affordable electric cars available to buy right now. Boasting an excellent real-world range, it is an electric car that demands little compromises, especially if you have the ability to charge at home.

Put down a deposit of £5,000, and Kia’s PCP calculator quotes 37 monthly payments of £503.98 (APR 4.9%), with an option to purchase of £14,402.42 at the end (8,000-mile limit).

There are of course huge benefits for company car drivers switching to fully electric cars, so consult your accountant for more details.

The rivals

Kia’s e-Niro is the most obvious and boasts a more practical and spacious interior than the Soul EV but is more conservative in design.

Sister company Hyundai offers the attractive Kona Electric. With the promise of up to 278 miles of range and a similar list price, the Kona is worth a look. At the time of writing, there are some excellent PCP deals too on their website. You do only get a five-year warranty though…

Nissan’s Leaf will be familiar to many and the latest version is much improved. A range of up to 239 miles may be enough for many.

Verdict

There is much to commend the Soul EV. The list of standard equipment is exhaustive, the driving characteristics appealing and the range excellent.

Kia’s class-leading warranty should allay any fears about venturing into the world of pure electric motoring.

I prefer the rather more sober looks of the e-Niro, but I can see many being drawn to the Soul’s rather more striking design. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed. Demand is high, so make haste to your nearest Kia showroom if you are ready to join the electric car revolution.