With more electric cars to choose from than ever before, Kia is working hard to make its new Soul EV stands out from the crowd. It’s certainly on the right track, with a superb electric range and bold styling. But does it succeed?
- Long electric range
- Lots of standard kit
- Bold styling
- Strange steering feel
- High price
- Small boot
Coming up just behind Nissan, Renault and BMW, Kia was one of the earliest firms to join the electric car market with its funky Soul EV.
Arriving at the end of 2014, the Soul EV is based on the regular petrol and diesel versions of this oddball crossover. While distinctive, well-equipped and roomy, it’s somewhat limited by its small 30kWh battery – this allowing for a claimed electric range of 132 miles, but you’d get closer to 100 miles in real-world driving.
While adequate for its time, and now an appealing used buy, battery technology has moved on, leaving it behind by the time it went off sale in 2018.
Kia now has an extensive line-up of electrified models, and its e-Niro, which went on sale in 2019, is one of the most well-respected EVs around – especially when it comes to its range.
It’s no surprise then that for the second-generation Soul, Kia has used the e-Niro’s battery pack – enabling 280 miles of range. In the UK, the Soul is just sold as an EV, and continues to look as bold as ever. New tech has also been integrated – such as class-leading safety tech and a large 10.25-inch touchscreen.
Like many electric cars, the Soul EV delivers punchy acceleration – especially from a standstill. Here the performance is instant thanks to the seamless delivery of torque from the electric motor. The Soul’s new suspension setup also makes it comfortable to drive, and not as fidgety a ride as you see from other electric models.
The only real disappointment lies with the sharp steering, which seems far too sensitive. That said, we’re sure you would soon adjust to it, while elsewhere the driving experience is quiet and refined.
Looks and image
If you find the styling of the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe a bit plain, it’s worth taking a look at this Soul EV. It’s rare these days to have a design that genuinely looks unique, but the Soul EV really does stand out on the road.
In terms of shape, it’s not too different to its boxy predecessor, but with a modern twist. The narrow LED headlights give the Soul plenty of presence on the road, while large boomerang-shaped LED lights at the rear look particularly cool at night.
You’ll also notice a step up in quality, with high-quality materials used throughout the cabin.
The Soul’s looks and impressively long range make it an appealing choice, but if it’s space you’re after, you might be disappointed.
At 315 litres, the boot is small – closer to the size of a supermini than a crossover. If you’re wanting an electric Kia and value practicality, we’d recommend looking at the e-Niro which offers a large 451-litre boot.
Passenger space is more impressive, though, with those in the rear seats unlikely to struggle for room.
Engine and running costs
With a battery pack more than twice the size of its predecessor, the Soul EV’s range has more than doubled – increasing from 132 miles to a superb 280 miles. That 64kWh battery pack is one of the largest outside of a Tesla or a large premium SUV.
It also comes with a punchy electric motor that serves up a healthy 201bhp and 395Nm of torque – enabling a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 104mph.
While you’ll pay a premium to buy the Soul EV, you’ll save on running costs – particularly if you charge at home or at free public chargers. Zero emissions make it exempt from pollution-based road schemes and car tax. And its 0% benefit-in-kind makes the Soul EV an attractive option for company car users.
- 64kWh battery with 201bhp electric motor
- MG ZS EV – from £25,495
- Nissan Leaf – from £26,845
- Peugeot e-2008 – from £29,065
- Kia e-Niro – from £29,595
- Hyundai Kona Electric – from £29,900
- DS 3 Crossback E-Tense – from £31,540
- BMW i3 – from £38,555
The Soul EV is only available in a single ‘First Edition’ grade and comes exceptionally well-equipped. Equipment highlights are as follows.
First Edition – from £34,295
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- Harmon/Kardon sound system
- 10.25-inch touchscreen
- Head-up display
- Keyless entry
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Leather upholstery
- Adaptive cruise control
- Electric driver’s seat
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Digital instrument cluster
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Reversing camera
- Blind spot monitoring
- Rear cross traffic alert