Kia Soul EV review

Kia's funkier electric car is even more high-tech, and even better value than more practical e-Niro

£33,500
£30,000
Electric

Pros

  • Loads of hi-tech equipment
  • Great to drive
  • Long driving range

Cons

  • Not as practical as an e-Niro
  • Interior could look more interesting
  • Likely to sell out quickly
Car type Electric range Wallbox charge time Fast charge time
Electric 280 miles 9hrs (7kW) 42 mins

The Kia Soul EV might be a familiar name to electric-car aficionados, since the distinctive, boxy small SUV was offered with a short-range electric powertrain in the previous model. This new car, however, is about to take it mainstream. In fact, if you thought the Kia e-Niro was a big hit, the Soul EV could offer an even more compelling pure-electric package.

Offered with the same 64kWh battery that powers the e-Niro and the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Soul EV is smaller and a bit less practical than its more utilitarian siblings, with a slightly shorter boot and lower ground clearance.

For all that, there’s masses of space in the front and back seats and the boot is big enough for light family use and also includes dedicated underfloor cable storage, so this is hardly a car that compromises usability for its styling.

And check out that styling: straight out of a George Lucas fantasy, and complete with purposeful frown, bright colours with contrasting roof, funky rear light signature and the trademark boxy silhouette, it’s unmistakably the Soul, just distilled for the future. UK cars will all get a contrasting, rugged-looking bodykit as standard, too.

The car has an official WLTP-calculated driving range of 280 miles, and can charge up at a standard Type 2 socket or a DC rapid charger of up to 100kW. If you can find one of the latter, then you’ll get a 20-80% charge in just 42 minutes.

The Soul EV will be offered in just one trim level when it arrives at the end of 2019, while orders are due to commence in 2020. Kia can’t confirm how many cars will be allocated to the UK market yet; it'll depend largely on the available supply of lithium-ion battery packs.

It’s predicted that supply issues will have eased by the time the Soul goes into production, but definite numbers are an unknown for now, so with demand likely to be high you’d be wise to expect long lead times if you don’t place your order soon.

A full UK-specific equipment list has yet to be confirmed, but the Soul EV will come with a 10.25-inch touchscreen system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and advanced 3D navigation, as well as a new ‘UVO Connect’ App that’ll allow owners to set pre-heating and charging times from their phone; one of the key features missing from the e-Niro.

There's also likely to be wireless phone charging, the full suite of semi-autonomous driver aids, and even a head-up display.

On the road, the Soul EV is a peach. It’s got a slick, natural-feeling gait that perfectly suits zipping about town, while it’s also reassuringly stable on faster roads and motorways. There are four driving modes to choose from, ranging from Sport, Normal, Eco and Eco+, the latter of which denies you air-conditioning and a significant portion of the car’s performance and throttle response in order to maximise driving range.

Of the others, Sport feels overtly hopped-up, while Normal and Eco are likely to be where you stick the car and leave it depending on how keen you like your throttle response. The regenerative braking has three levels of aggressiveness, and is intuitive and easy to predict.

Riding on 17-inch wheels, the Soul feels composed if perhaps a little firm over bigger potholes, but it should certainly comfortable enough for most.

Overall, this car feels like the complete package, with a long enough range to satisfy high-mileage motorists, modern connectivity and app functionality, neat dynamics, top-notch safety and technology. Our only quibble is that the interior is a bit ordinary-looking after the appealingly characterful exterior styling, and feels cheap in some areas.

For more on the Kia Soul EV, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.