Kia Soul EV performance, motor & drive

The Kia Soul EV is a slick city car and a good motorway cruiser, with clever regenerative braking and seriously punchy acceleration

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Performance, motor & handling rating

4.0 out of 5

Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
39kWh9.9s97mphFront134bhp
64kWh7.9s104mphFront201bhp

The Kia Soul EV is now offered with two powertrains, and entry-level models feature a less powerful 134bhp electric motor. We've yet to try this new base model, but have tested a 201bhp version of the electric family SUV. That 201bhp means acceleration is brisk and the car builds speed seamlessly, characteristics matched with easily-judged proportions and advanced safety aids to make it a great city car. But while it makes light work of town roads it's also well suited to faster A-road, dual-carriageway and motorway driving. 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 electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

The Soul EV isn’t a car you’d naturally expect to feel almost hot-hatchback fast, but with the instant, seamless delivery of electric power and up to 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-up 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 it's worth having if you do want (or need) to prioritise range above all else. The regenerative braking system has three levels of aggression, as well as an ‘automatic’ setting that uses the car’s radar to automatically maintain distance from the vehicle in front when you come off the throttle, which allows the 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 systems on the market; they function together to offer a semi-autonomous driving mode that works well on multi-lane roads.

Handling

The Soul EV is no sports SUV. Yes, the 201bhp version we drove offers zingy acceleration and the car 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 in this family SUV sector are after. Ride comfort is good on the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, but there is a slightly firm edge to proceedings, which is a consequence of the slightly firmer-than-normal suspension needed by almost all electric cars to deal with the weight of the batteries.

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