Review: Kia Soul EV (2020)
280-mile range is impressive. Spacious cabin. Long warranty.
Bold looks won't be for everyone. Interior could be plusher. Cheaper electric cars are available.
Kia Soul EV (2020): At A Glance
Kia and sister brand Hyundai have form with electric cars. The Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric are two of the most in-demand EVs thanks to their long ranges (up to 282 miles) and relatively affordable price tags.
So confident is Kia that electric cars are the future, the Soul is now sold exclusively as an electric vehicle. It uses the same 204PS electric motor and 64kWh battery pack as the e-Niro, travelling 280 miles from a charge. While other recent electric cars like the Honda E and MINI Electric will struggle to cover more than 100 miles between top-ups, the Soul's range makes it a realistic proposition for all but the most high-mileage of drivers.
It's also useable in terms of space. This isn't a small electric city car, it's a family car that could replace a Ford Focus or even a Nissan Qashqai on your driveway. The Soul's boxy dimensions means there's comfortably space for a pair of adults in the rear, although the 315-litre boot is a little disappointing compared to the e-Niro's 451 litres.
While the interior is functional, it's not particularly interesting. There are lots of dark, drab colours and lots of buttons dotted around the dash, although the standard 10.25-inch navigation system is clear and easy to use.
Kia's initially offering the Soul EV in one First Edition trim level. This is very well equipped, with the aforementioned navigation system as well as a Harmon/Kardon sound system, a seven-inch digital display behind the steering wheel, heated leather seats and a reversing camera amongst its long list of standard equipment.
Priced from around £34,000 after the Government's plug-in car grant, the biggest issue the Kia Soul faces is whether people can justify spending that kind of money on an electric car. But it's not something that's hampered sales of the e-Niro, and when you start to factor fuel savings into monthly payments it starts to make a lot of sense.
What does a Kia Soul EV (2020) cost?
Kia Soul EV (2020): What's It Like Inside?
The first thing you'll notice about the Soul's interior is how spacious it is. There is a huge amount of headroom, even in the rear, thanks to its boxy dimensions.
The second thing you'll notice, unfortunately, is its lack of soul. It's just not as bright and cheery as you'd expect from the car's exterior, with lots of dark materials and drab plastics. There are also buttons everywhere, although that just hints at the Soul's high level of standard equipment.
To keep things simple, Kia will initially only be selling the Soul EV in First Edition guise. That means everything you could possibly want is standard, including a large 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system in the centre of the dash. Like in other Kias, this is simple to use with clear graphics and quick responses. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, too - meaning you can access features from your phone on the move.
Getting comfortable in the driver's seat is easy, thanks to eight-way power adjustment with the upright, high driving position that many people want in a crossover SUV. There's plenty of room in the rear, too, although the 315-litre boot means you'll have to pack light if you're going away for a family holiday.
The rear seats do drop 60:40 if you need more space, while two sets of Isofix child seat tethers are fitted in the back.
Standard equipment (from launch):
First Edition features 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED headlights and rear lights, electric heated door mirrors with LED indicators, rain-sensing front wipers, 60:40 folding rear seats, dual-height load floor, tyre mobility kit, black leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, electronic parking brake, automatic air conditioning, all-round electric windows, adaptive Smart Cruise Control (SCC), eight-way power adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, ten-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system, DAB radio with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system with European mapping and traffic messaging channel (TMC), seven-inch colour display cluster and head-up display, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, wireless phone charger.
Child seats that fit a Kia Soul EV (2020)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Kia Soul EV (2020) like to drive?
With 204PS, no Soul EV driver is going to find themselves wishing it had more power. Hit the accelerator and it'll surge forwards instantly - as with any other electric car, all of the torque is available as soon as you ask for it. There's no waiting for the automatic gearbox to drop a few cogs or patiently waiting for the revs to build, it just goes.
With all that power going through the front wheels alone, it is quite easy to overwhelm the front wheels. That means you'll get the traction control light flickering if you're heavy with the throttle from a standstill, particularly in wet conditions. But you soon learn to drive within the Soul's limits - and a little bit of wheelspin through the front wheels isn't too disconcerting.
Indeed, it's a very relaxing car to drive thanks to its lack of noise from the motor. You'll coast along in peace and tranquility, save for a little bit of wind noise at higher speeds.
Try to tackle a twisty road at speed and you'll find that the Soul EV isn't as agile as petrol alternatives like the SEAT Arona and Ford Puma, but it remains fairly composed with only a bit of lean in the bends. But that's not what this car is about.
Officially the Soul EV can cover 280 miles between charges. We're yet to spend a lengthy period of time with it to see how that translates in the real world, but it's fair to say you should see comfortably over 200 miles even with some brisk acceleration and use of the heated seats and headlights.
Charging is simple, using a socket located behind a panel at the front of the car. An 100kW DC charger will top up the Soul's battery from 20 to 80 per cent in less than 45 minutes, while a 7.2kW home wallbox will take around 9.5 hours to provide a full charge. You won't want to charge it using a three-pin plug regularly, though, as that'll take a lengthy 31 hours.
What have we been asked about the Kia Soul EV (2020)?
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How many miles and/or years are electric vehicle battery packs supposed to last?
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