First Drive: Kia Soul EV
Nearing a 300-mile range, the new Soul is now electric only in Europe, but does it answer the usual anxieties, Jonathan Musk asks.
SECTOR B-SUV PRICE £33,795 RANGE 280 miles CHARGING 0-80% 54 mins
In 2018, Kia sold more electric versions of its Soul model in Europe, than petrol and diesel combined. For this reason, the new car is electric only for the European market. But, does the new Soul EV still make a case for itself as a no-compromise single-solution car despite now being electric only?
Going some way in its favour is a stellar spec sheet, including a 280-mile range (up to 402 miles in city driving and should be good for around 250 miles at motorway speed) thanks to its 64kWh battery. It shares the same battery capacity and electric motor as its bigger brother, the Kia e-Niro, which is no bad thing. Because it’s smaller and slightly lighter than that car, it’s also nimbler and better sprung; although its 1,757kg weight (of which 457kg is battery) can be felt as the suspension pounds the 17-inch wheels down into our mottled roads.
Charging that sizeable battery takes 54 minutes from 0-80% using a 100kW CCS charger, if you can find one – and drops the old Soul EV’s CHAdeMO connector. Fortunately, home or workplace charging can be accomplished during a typical working day or overnight, with a 9 hour 35-minute time for 0-100% on a common 7.2kW charger. Kia also has a with Pod Point to provide customers with home chargers, priced at £300 for a 7kW charger.
Performance is impressive, with 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds and all of the motor’s 201hp and massive 395Nm torque offers wheel spin on demand and exceptional uphill acceleration. This all adds to the easy-to-drive nature of this electric Kia, with instant response available at all times and at any speed. With five levels of adjustable regenerative braking available, it’s also adaptable – though newbies to electric driving should note that for best range results, using zero ‘regen’ and maximum free-roll coasting tends to work best. However, around town the paddle-engaged ‘regen’ proves useful and makes light work of driving in heavy traffic.
As for the rest of the car, it’s a marked improvement over the old Soul EV, although it’s been slightly toned down in equal measure and is more conservative. Whereas the old car used to enjoy pulsing lights to music played on the stereo, the new Soul drops this in favour of subtle (non-pulsing) mood lighting.
Other additions include an updated infotainment system with a new 10.25-inch cinematic wide touchscreen that offers quick and easy-to-navigate access to everything you might wish to know about the state of the battery and so on.
New to Kia, and the Soul EV, is the UVO app that offers remote connection and telematics to the vehicle. Offering additional peace of mind is Kia’s standard 7 year/100,000-mile warranty. So far so good then, but there’s just one remaining hurdle; the price. With only one trim option, the well-equipped Soul EV ‘First Edition’ costs £33,795. That’s only marginally less than the larger Kia e-Niro that offers a similarly usable specification.
An intriguing EV that satisfies the usual electric anxieties, but that comes at a sales-phenomenon-restricting price.
Key fleet model: Kia Soul EV ‘First Edition’
Strengths: Range, Power, Engaging to drive
Weaknesses: Lengthy charging time, high cost
FW Star Rating: 4/5