This article is more than 1 year old
Kia Soul EV: Nifty Korean 'leccy hatchback has heart and Seoul
A cracking little wagon and a declaration of intent
Tree of knowledge
Only the “grow a tree” Eco-rating smacks of being patronising but you can keep an eye on this in the instrument binnacle without the silly graphics. Basically, it rates the efficiency of your driving on a scale of one to eight.
3.5-inch OLED screen in binnacle shows you vital info sans patronising graphics
Everything else – the seats made from recycled materials, the cooling tower dash speakers, the centre console controls and 8-inch touch screen, the soft-feel plastics, funky ambient lighting – looks good and feels good. The Soul EV’s cabin really is a relaxing and well-appointed place to spend time. Exterior visibility is good, too.
The external changes aside, the EV-ification of the Soul has resulted in the loss of 8cm of rear legroom and a chunk (30-odd litres) of rear cargo space. The last isn’t quite as bad as it sounds; it’s just a matter of the boot floor being higher and the cubby holes smaller. All in all, the Soul EV is still a practical 5-door, 5-seater.
Conversion to EV impacts luggage and rear legroom but not by a killer amount. Cables live under deck
Pop open the Soul’s hatch and delve into the under-floor cubby and you’ll find the necessary cables to plug the thing into a domestic 240V/10A plug or a 7kW charging port. Like the Nissan Leaf, you can also hook the Soul up to a 360V/45kW fast charger. Those three sources will charge the Soul up in around 10-13 hours, 4.5 hours and 35 minutes respectively.
When it comes to price, the opposition from Renault and Nissan have the Kia beaten, thanks to the battery-leasing schemes you have to sign up for when you buy a Zoe or Leaf. With the Kia your £25,000 outlay (that’s after the British Government's £5,000 plug-in car rebate) gets you the battery as well as masses of kit and a 7-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
The Kia Soul EV. All-in-all a much, much better car than I had expected
It’s also worth mentioning that Kia doesn’t offer any sort of remote monitoring system for the Soul EV, so you can’t check the charge status from your smartphone while sipping a latte. I suspect such investment is seen as unnecessary given the planned sales of only around 100 cars in the UK.
The Reg Verdict
I expected the Soul EV to be little more that a road-going demonstrator. It’s not. It’s much, much better than that. As a piece of automotive engineering it wants for nothing and is eminently easy to both drive and live with.
My range experience fell short of Kia’s claims but were still par for the current EV course. With 7kW chargers popping up all over Greater Manchester, that would only become less and less of an issue for me over time.
The lower initial price, battery leasing scheme and remote management facility make either the Zoe or Leaf a more obvious purchase at this moment in time but that doesn't detract from the Soul's innate qualities. Indeed, I’m eager to see what Kia cooks up for its next electric car. ®