Kia Soul EV review: interior, dashboard & infotainment
The Kia Soul’s interior doesn’t match the pizazz of its exterior; the infotainment system is a highlight, though
The Kia Soul EV's interior is comfortable, spacious and has one of the best infotainment systems we've experienced in a non-premium electric car. The high-set driving position helps to enhance the sense that this is a small SUV rather than a raised-up hatchback, however, the overall design of the cabin is rather unexciting, which is disappointing given how distinctive the Soul EV is on the outside.
Kia Soul EV dashboard
The Soul EV’s dashboard features either an eight-inch or 10.25-inch touchscreen depending on which spec you go for. Otherwise, everything is easy to figure out, and looks classy enough thanks to gloss and metal-effect trim – even if it’s a bit unexciting compared with the comparatively space-age cabin of the Peugeot e-2008.
Quite a few of the car’s functions are controlled from the steering wheel, which can be a bit confusing at first, but doesn’t take long to figure out thanks to a large colour digital readout that shows the menus and information you’re toggling through. This, while certainly functional, isn’t as flashy, nor as configurable, as the fully-digital dual-screen setup that’s found in the Soul’s similarly-priced sibling, the Niro EV, and is yet another example of how the Soul is beginning to feel a little long in the tooth.
Another issue we have is that some of the plastics feel pretty cheap; a BYD Atto 3 has a much plusher interior. Also, while Explore models get a leather steering wheel, the base Soul EV Urban gets a cheap-feeling rubberised wheel that somewhat resembles a swimming noodle.
Equipment, options and accessories
The Kia Soul EV is available with two battery sizes and two trim levels. The entry-level 39kWh battery model, dubbed ‘Urban’, features 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a reversing camera, cloth upholstery and an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver aids include adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance.
The ‘Explore’ trim is offered exclusively with the 64kWh battery, and replaces the old ‘Maxx’ trim. It gets a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav and Kia Connect live services, plus automatic wipers, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and leather upholstery. It adds extra safety features in the form of blind-spot monitoring and Kia’s Safe Exit Warning, and you also get an SUV pack with more rugged wheel-arch cladding and roof rails.
The ‘free’ colour for both versions is Mars Orange, with single-tone paint costing £595 for the Urban edition. Explore models get a two-tone paint scheme, with optional colours costing £745.
Infotainment, apps and sat nav
As mentioned, depending on which specification you go for, the Kia Soul EV will be fitted with either an eight or 10.25-inch central touchscreen running the latest version of Kia's operating system – the same system you get in the new Niro EV. If you don't like it though, the Soul EV does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity – strangely, both require a wired connection with the upgraded infotainment, whereas the base setup gets wireless smartphone connectivity.
The Kia Soul EV is also compatible with the Kia Connect app, which you can use to monitor remaining charge or find your car, among other functions. The Harmon-Kardon sound system in our test car sounded great, too.
In This Review
- 1VerdictA quirky exterior design makes the Kia Soul EV an interesting left-field alternative to the more-practical Niro EV
- 2Range, battery & chargingWhile the smaller battery offers a range figure better suited to town driving, Soul EV Explore cars are competitive even with newer rivals
- 3Running costs & insuranceLike most EVs, the Soul EV is relatively affordable to run – but it’s quite expensive to insure and service
- 4Performance, motor & handlingThe Kia Soul EV is better to drive than you might expect, with punchy acceleration and a clever regenerative braking system
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfort - currently readingThe Kia Soul’s interior doesn’t match the pizazz of its exterior; the infotainment system is a highlight, though
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Kia Soul EV's practicality is hard to fault for a small SUV, but there are larger and more versatile alternatives available for similar money
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThere’s no Euro NCAP scores for the Soul EV yet, but it comes with a lot of safety kit and should prove reliable