Review Of The Kia Soul EV
The new Kia Soul EV is a lot like the impressive petrol-powered Soul, but replaces a conventional engine with a 109bhp electric motor. There’s enough power here to cover the 0-62 sprint in 10.8 seconds, the battery pack has a range of 132 miles and the Soul EV is, on the whole, a thoroughly enjoyable car.
It’s also smart, well-stocked up with standard kit, super duper eco-friendly, and almost as practical as the standard model. However, it costs more to buy outright, and so the question is: Is it worth the extra £££?
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Kia Soul EV review.
On The Road
Like with all EV’s, driving the Soul EV will feel like a novelty at first. Once that aspect has worn off, it becomes clear that this is a car that’s easy to live with – but one that isn’t much fun. It’s easy enough to drive but don’t expect it to entertain you.
It weighs more than the standard model, and this has pros and cons. It’s biggest pro is that it feels well-planted on the road, and it keeps its composure when you tackle bends.
The steering is precise and well-weighted but it lacks feel. The FlexSteer system gives you the chance to flick through different settings, but despite three choices – Normal, Comfort and Sport – drivers might struggle to tell the difference between any of them.
It’s possible to approach bends at high speeds but doing so makes the car feel glaringly nose heavy. Entertaining, this car isn’t.
Still, we have few complaints with ride quality, and if you’re looking for a relaxed driving experience, the Soul EV has a lot to offer you. Moreover, the car’s range of 132 miles will further encourage drivers to take it easy.
The electric motor that’s at the heart of things develops a fairly modest 109bhp but a beefier torque of 285Nm. This is enough to get you from rest to 62mph in 10.8 seconds flat. Thanks to the extra weight of the batteries, the Kia Soul EV never feels especially fast, but, thanks to the fact that all its power is developed in an instant, it keeps up with traffic well.
Moreover, it feels nippy enough at speeds below 40mph.
Kia Soul EV Interior, Design & Build
Design-wise, the Kia Soul EV is pretty smart and stands out in the showroom, thanks to its boxy looks. It looks a lot like the standard model but gets different 16” alloys that limit aerodynamic drag, and a blanked-off radiator grill.
Inside, there are further similarities with the standard model but this electric variant is a bit funkier. It gets eco-friendly upholstery and a two-tone grey dashboard. Electric blue stitching is woven into the upholstery, while the carpet and seat padding is made from more eco-friendly materials.
The cabin layout will be familiar to anyone who has sat inside the standard Kia Soul, which means you get an 8” infotainment system inside a central pod, ventilation/speaker units at either end of the dashboard and three LED lights.
Because the Soul EV isn’t a purpose-built electric car, its interior isn’t as futuristic as some electric cars, such as the BMW i3, but on the whole, it’s smart and modern.
Is the Kia Soul EV practical? Interior space is mostly good but there’s less rear legroom than there is in the standard model, and this is because Kia needed somewhere to store the battery pack. It’s still a five-seater and headroom is excellent all-round.
The boot is smaller than its standard sibling and measures 281-litres. The rear seats slide forward for a bit more space, but the backrest doesn’t fold entirely flat. However, folding it increases load capacity to a respectable 891-litres.
Equipment & Safety Of The Kia Soul EV
Standard kit is good. There’s only one trim level available and it comes with privacy glass, cruise control, parking sensors, heated front seats, keyless start and entry, electrically heated and folding door mirrors and dual-zone climate control.
In terms of how safe it is, Euro NCAP awarded the Soul EV 4/5 for its crash test performance. It likely missed out on a clean sweep because of the absence of an automatic emergency braking system.
Lane-keeping assistance and radar cruise control are also missing, but among its standard safety kit is hill-start assist, brake assist, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management and six airbag’s.
Costs Of The Kia Soul EV
Prices for the new car start out from £30,495. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the Kia Soul EV can keep going on a single charge for 155 miles, although its range will decrease much quicker in colder conditions. A full recharge should take you twelve hours if you use a standard three-pin plug at home, but you can recharge the batteries in just 5 hours if you use a fast charger. A rapid public charging station, meanwhile, can recharge the batteries by 80% in 33 minutes.
The car is free from road tax and costs a 40% taxpayer £1,096 to run. It occupies insurance group 18.
Pros and Cons Of The Kia Soul EV
Low Running Costs
Like all electric cars, the Soul EV is cheap as chips to run.
It’s green-minded and lets you do your bit for the environment without sacrificing the features that conventional city car’s get.
A 281-litre boot, excellent visibility and a standard rearview camera all help to make this a really usable car.
Depreciation is a real issue here and the Soul EV isn’t expected to be worth more than a third of its initial purchase price after three years of ownership.
Expensive To Buy
It might be dirt cheap to run, but a price tag of £30,495 is likely to put some buyers off.
Kia Soul EV vs Renault Zoe vs Nissan Leaf
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Kia Soul EV review.
Kia Soul EV vs Renault Zoe
The new Renault Zoe is a relaxed, easygoing electric supermini that’s tailor-made for the city.
Its brand new R110 electric motor is 16bhp more powerful than last time and can now race from a standstill to 62mph in 13.5 seconds. That still looks sluggish on paper, but because the Zoe delivers all its power instantaneously, it feels much quicker.
In fact, it feels zippy in the towns and cities, where its slight frame makes it easy to sprint away from traffic.
The car is quiet, its steering is light and accurate, and the elevated driving position ensures good visibility.
A regenerative braking system is hit and miss. Although it does a good job of saving energy that would otherwise be wasted, and thus extending range, it brakes too abruptly, which can make drivers nervous.
Body roll is also a bit of an issue, thanks to the extra weight of the battery pack.
Running costs? The Renault Zoe is attractively priced but if you choose to buy the car for a reduced fee, you’ll need to make regular monthly payments to lease the batteries. How much you’ll pay depends on the length of the contract and your expected annual mileage. If it’s less than 4,500 miles per year, you’ll pay just £60 a month.
Inside, the Zoe boasts a satisfying cabin. It’s quiet and smooth on the move, with the soft supportive seats offering plenty of comfort. The car is well insulated, but cabin quality could be better. The grey and beige plastics are hardly becoming an exciting electric car.
Is the Renault Zoe practical? It’s small but well-packaged, with Renault doing a stellar job of making it as spacious and comfortable as possible. Head and legroom are adequate and the Zoe is actually bigger than the Renault Clio.
The boot is a good size too, and measures 388-litres with all the seats up. A low loading lip is a huge bonus.
Renault – £22,670 – £30,520
Kia Soul EV vs Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is now in its second generation. It’s ditched its quirky cream interior in favour of a more traditional black one, and added more power and range to its electric motor.
That electric motor now develops 148bhp, which allows the Leaf to comfortably cover the 0-62 sprint in just 7.9 seconds. That’s a huge improvement on last time (11.5 seconds) and the car is easy to drive. Acceleration is smooth and there’s no hesitation at all when you connect with the pedal.
Light steering makes the car ideal for urban jaunts, but the suspension is a tad on the firm side. However, it never becomes what you’d call uncomfortable.
Nissan has introduced a new bit of tech called the e-Pedal. It means you only need to use the brake pedal if you’re about to come to a sudden halt; for the rest of the time, you can rely solely on the accelerator pedal.
It’s a piece of tech that will take some time to get to grips with but it’s pretty useful. It also limits driver fatigue and extends range.
Running costs? Nissan claims their all-electric poster car can manage as many as 235 miles on a single charge. That’s massively impressive and almost doubles what its predecessor could do.
Nissan also reckons buyers will pay 83% less to run this car than they would for a petrol or diesel-powered equivalent. The Leaf is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.
Inside, the car looks more traditional than last time, with Nissan now favouring a more traditional black interior. As such, it doesn’t stand out from the crowd quite as much and feels a lot more conventional. There are still a few sporty touches here and there – such as the blue stitching on the racy flat-bottomed steering wheel, dashboard and seats – but buyers will also notice evidence of low rent materials, too.
These harder plastics don’t disrupt the ambience too much and shouldn’t prove to be a deal maker, as the Leaf is still a solidly built car.
Is the Nissan Leaf practical? As well as being more powerful than last time, it’s also bigger, which has boosted its usability. It accommodates four adults well, with those sat in the back seat a tad higher than those in the front. This is because the battery pack is tucked underneath the floor, and it does limit knee room somewhat.
Access is easy thanks to wide opening doors, but it’s a shame that the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach.
The boot, meanwhile, measures a very impressive 435-litres, which is bigger than most conventional hatchback’s. Some of that space is taken up by a pair of charging cables, but not much.
Nissan – £26,490 – £31,990
Verdict Of Our 2018 Kia Soul EV Review
Picking just one electric car is going to be tough for buyers. Has the Soul EV got enough to stand out from its competitors? It’s not quite as funky as one or two rivals, but it’s definitely got style and a keen sense of fun. It’s also practical, if not quite as practical as a conventional car, and its range is thoroughly adequate.
The conclusion, then? The Kia Soul EV is a solid electric car but you’ll always need to weigh up that high purchase price and poor depreciation, too.
- Dealer vs. car broker: what’s the difference? - 13th August 2018
- How Reliable are DS Cars? An Honest Assessment of the DS Brand - 10th August 2018
- Ford Focus Electric vs Nissan Leaf vs Volkswagen e-Golf: Review & Comparisons - 17th April 2018