Kia Soul EV review

The Kia Soul EV is the funkier member of the Kia electric-car family: more distinctive but less practical than the Kia Niro EV

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Pros

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

Cons

  • Slightly harsh ride quality
  • Not as practical as an e-Niro
  • Interior could look more interesting
ModelRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
39kWh171 miles6hrs 10mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)54mins (0-80%, 77kW)
64kWh280 miles10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)54mins (10-80%, 77kW)

Kia isn't holding back when it comes to electric cars, with the EV6 offering sharp styling and handling, while the new Niro EV is a more sober and sensible take on the family EV formula. There's also the Soul EV: a distinctive and boxy small SUV, offering a compelling pure-electric package that’s both affordable and stylish. It competes with the Mazda MX-30, Peugeot e-2008DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE and Vauxhall Mokka-e.

As of October 2022, the Soul EV is the same 39kWh and 64kWh batteries as the Hyundai Kona Electric, but the Kia is smaller and a bit less practical than its more utilitarian cousins, with a slightly shorter boot and lower ground clearance. But there’s still masses of space in the front and back, while the boot is big enough for family use and there's underfloor cable storage, so the Soul EV hardly compromises usability for the sake of styling.

And check out that styling: straight out of Star Wars, complete with a purposeful frown, bright colours, a contrasting roof, funky rear light signature and the trademark boxy silhouette, it’s unmistakably a Kia Soul, just distilled for the future. UK cars all get a contrasting, rugged-looking 'SUV Pack' bodykit as standard. Official driving range is between 171 and 280 miles, depending on which battery you go for, and 77kW rapid charging speeds means a 0-80% top-up takes just under an hour for either model. 

In the UK, the 39kWh Soul EV costs just under £33,000, £2,200 cheaper than the previous 64kWh Maxx version and nearly £4,000 less than an entry-level Niro EV. The smaller battery comes in one trim level called Urban, while the bigger battery is offered exclusively with the Explore trim level. This Explore version is better equipped than the previous Maxx trim, but costlier too: it now costs a fraction under £39,000. Both trim levels get LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. The higher trim adds a bigger touchscreen, more connectivity, styling tweaks and more driver assistance.

On the road, the Soul EV is a peach to drive. It has 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 – Sport, Normal, Eco and Eco+. The last 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 overly 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 and is intuitive and easy to predict in all of them. Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, the Soul EV feels composed if perhaps a little firm over bigger potholes, but it should certainly be comfortable enough for most.

Overall, this car feels like the complete electric package, with enough range to satisfy either high-mileage motorists or those who just need something to get around town. Standard kit is generous, too, but 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...

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