Kia Soul EV electric motor, drive & performance

A slick city car and stable motorway cruiser, with clever adjustable regenerative braking, advanced semi-autonomous mode and seriously punchy acceleration

0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
7.9secs 104mph Front 201bhp

The Kia Soul EV has sprightly acceleration and builds speed seamlessly, characteristics matched with easily-judged proportions and advanced safety aids.

It makes light work of town roads but is also well suited to faster roads. It’s a stable-feeling car that’s easy to drive, and will satisfy as long as you’re not expecting an overtly sporty feeling.

Kia Soul EV engine, 0-62mph and acceleration

The Soul isn’t a car you’d naturally expect to feel almost hot-hatch fast, but with the instant, seamless delivery of electric power and 201bhp to play with, it really will surprise much sportier cars away from the line.

More importantly, it’s very easy to judge and modulate the build of power thanks to decent control and pedal weights, and the Soul EV generally feels stable and easy to drive.

There are four driving modes to choose from. Normal and Sport have noticeably sharper throttle response and also automatically reduce the regenerative braking force, while Eco is a happy medium with softer settings and slightly extended driving range, but still with a sprightly feel to it.

Eco+ is for full-on hyper-efficiency, with no air-conditioning and greatly neutered power; it’s not much fun, but is worth having if you do want to prioritise range above all else.

The regenerative braking system has three levels of aggression, and also an ‘automatic’ setting that uses the car’s radar to automatically maintain distance from the vehicle in front when you come off the throttle and allow the 'regen' system to harvest energy rather than using the brake pedal.

It’s worth mentioning that the Kia’s standard adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance are some of the most effective on the market, and function together to offer a semi-autonomous driving mode that works well on multi-lane roads.

Handling

The Soul is no sports SUV. Yes, it has zingy acceleration and feels dialled-in enough in terms of its steering and body control that you can enjoy threading it down a fun country road, but the steering offers little texture or feedback and the whole experience encourages relaxed rather than vigorous progress.

And that's exactly what most buyers are after. Ride comfort is good – our test car rode on 17-inch wheels, and while it feels fairly firm over big potholes and the like, well sorted damping keeps it from being too jarring or uncomfortable.