APART from zero-emissions, low running-costs and an impressively serene driving-experience; what do most family-friendly electric vehicles have in common? Answer: a ridiculously long waiting-list . . .
Not so, the brand-new Soul EV which Kia have ensured is available in sufficient numbers to meet the growing demand for affordable Electric Vehicles in the UK.
But you ‘aint going to splash the cash on a vehicle just because it’s in stock right now. You have certain standards, right?
Top of the list for any EV is range and the good news is the Kia Soul EV comes with a 64kWh drivetrain giving you a healthy 280 miles of range (combined) – which should be more than enough for most. More good news is that I found that figure realistic with mixed-driving around the Peak District and with an 80-mile round trip on the M1 thrown in for good measure.
I also popped into my local Morrisons for a top-up on their newly-installed fast-charging stations and it only took 40 minutes to go from 20% to 100% – About the same time it takes to do the weekly “big” shop.
So, now that range-anxiety has been put to bed let’s talk about the Soul EV as a family motor.
First off, you won’t lose it in the car park when you come out from your “big” shop. The Kia Soul EV is distinctive and quite tall for a mid-sized family SUV thanks to its boxy profile and the distinctive bi-tone colour schemes available on this First Edition model.
Its looks will, no doubt, be polarizing because it is so distinctive. Personally, I would have it over the rather dull-looking Kia e-Niro, with which it shares its drivetrain.
The Soul EV’s front-end looks mean with narrow LED headlamps and – in the white of my test car – I couldn’t help but think of a Stormtrooper.
I’m trying to avoid the word “funky” so I’ll settle for “futuristic” when it comes to the overall look of the Soul EV. I can see why it may appeal more to the younger end of the market as it is a little radical.
That boxy, slab-sided look isn’t all about style though – the Kia Soul EV makes good use of space and is very practical as a family car.
There’s plenty of room in the rear for 3 kids or two adults. Three adults are definitely a pinch. Two child-seats fit in easily, and thanks to wide-opening rear doors and the Soul’s tallness, those kids are easy to get in and out.
Boot space is down on the e-Niro’s but should be enough at 315 litres. Drop the rear seats and you get a spacious 1,339 litres.
Up front you have not only space to play with but plenty of tech too. The dash is dominated by Kia’s latest 10.25in floating infotainment screen that I found hassle-free to use thanks to a responsive screen and icons that aren’t too small to hit while on the move.
Other tech includes High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist System and Forward Collision Warning. There’s a Drive Mode Select system with ‘Eco’ and ‘Sport’ modes, satellite navigation with European mapping, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility and a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system which includes a subwoofer, external amplifier and front centre speaker.
You even get a wireless smartphone charger and Reversing Camera System as well as black leather upholstery, 17in alloy wheels and adaptive Cruise Control.
Every new Soul EV comes with this generous spec because there is, currently, only one Soul EV model – the First Edition (From £34,295, after PiCG Deduction).
I’m told the interior of the Soul is inspired by music and finished with “acoustic-inspired shapes and textures”. I’m not sure about that but I can see that the sound-system’s tweeters book-end the dashboard nicely and they look very stylish. Fit and finish is very good with enough soft textures around the cabin to give the Soul EV a quality feel that knocks spots off the likes of the Vauxhall e-Corsa and even the very competent Nissan Leaf.
Overall, up-front in the new Kia Soul EV is a great place to be seated. Visibility is excellent, as you would expect from such a tall-sided SUV. The rear window is fine too and the fully-digital dash is clear and easy to read as well as being multi-configurable.
The multi-adjustable front seats are heated and very comfortable with a good driving position easy to find, while the leather-clad, multi-function steering wheel is of excellent quality and feels on-par with the rest of the impressive interior.
However, it’s the on-road manners of the Kia Soul EV that really surprises. For such a tall-looking SUV it really does drive very nicely indeed.
This, of course, is due to that powertrain that gives you 201bhp and an impressive 395Nm of torque which means the Soul EV can whisk you from 0 to 60mph in under 8 seconds. While not hot-hatch territory, this is more than quick-enough to satisfy most, and because the Soul is an EV you get all that power instantly and in an incredibly linear surge that makes it feel much quicker.
The rest of the Soul EV’s dynamics are a pleasant surprise too. The ride is a little on the firm side but not enough to cause any problems over rougher roads. You’ won’t be throwing it around A and B-roads but when you do get onto the country roads there is definitely some fun to be had thanks to that instant-on power.
Yes, there is body-roll if you take things quickly but it’s not the “boaty” feel you may be expecting and the steering weights up nicely too, although it will always remain on the light side of perfect – just as it is on all the Soul EV’s rivals.
Motorway driving is a breeze with very little noise getting into the cabin even at 70mph where the Soul EV feels very stable and is a genuine pleasure to drive.
Overall, I think the Kia Soul EV could be the perfect family EV. It has the range and interior practicality to suit most families as well as a price that considerably undercuts any rivals that can match that impressive range.
Take into account all the driver-aids and tech that come as standard as well as Kia’s unbeatable 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty (yes, that includes the batteries) and you really do have a no-brainer of a decision to make. Just don’t leave it too long – you know what could happen . . .
AT A GLANCE:
Kia Soul EV First Edition
OTR Price: £34,295
Engine: 64kWh Electric Motor
Power: 201 bhp
Transmission: Single Speed Auto
0-60mph: 7.6 secs
Top Speed: 104 mph
Range (combined): 280 miles
C02: 0 g/km