The Soul has probably piqued your interest if you’re reading this, and who can blame you? It has some kind of draw, and in EV form, it’s an attractive alternative to the MG ZS EV.
Throughout the week, Matthew Macconnell puts the Kia Soul EV through its paces to give you, a potential buyer, a better idea of what it’s like in the real world.
With the third-gen car, Kia has ditched the eyeliner flick on the front headlights and has gone for eyebrows so sharp that it would make a Smart Fortwo EQ quake. Although it’s had its assertive styling since 2020, I found quite a few people gawking at it and noticed that drivers with older models also have a good look.
The Soul was dropped off and the colour combo of red and white instantly reminded me of those strawberry and cream sweets. Whenever I get an EV to test, I can’t help but pop the bonnet to see what’s there. Is it a boot? Is it plastic panels with a hole cut out to put washer fluid? Popping the bonnet on the Soul revealed an oddly satisfying motor cover with blue accents.
The first test was to collect our bearded dragon, Oscar, from a pet shop in Bishopbriggs which is around 34 miles from our home. We’d been on holiday the week before and it’s one of the only places that know how to care for such an exotic pet. Before setting off, the Soul showed 73% battery and 194 miles on the nifty central EV screen. Pushing the ‘Drive Mode’ button, found in the centre console, revealed an Eco+ setting; I rotated the central knob to ‘D’ and off we went.
On the road, it feels larger than it really is and adjusting to the interior is easy. One feature that helped was the programmable button on the steering wheel. Somewhere deep within the settings, you can program the button to show the EV screen, bring up the sat-nav screen or enable quiet mode — a setting that limits the volume to seven and turns off the rear speakers, so you don’t wake your napping cherubs up.
The pet shop route is a mix of motorway, dual carriageway and town driving — what most people may find on their morning work commute. Arriving back home with Oscar’s transport box strapped into the rear seat, the read-out showed 121 miles left, 46% battery and 3.8mi/kWh — the equivalent to 128MPGe — which is slightly lower than the 4.0mi/kWh Kia claims. Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider when calculating your efficiency such as weather conditions and both your and your passenger’s BMI — perhaps don’t ask them about that if you value their friendship.
With 46% battery and 121 miles left, we grabbed the opportunity, while the sun graced Scotland, to visit the picturesque town of Callander for an ice cream cone — 20.2 miles from home. After a 40min drive in the Normal setting, we arrived with 98 miles and 39% showing on the read-out. We plugged it into a free 39kW CCS rapid charger, abandoned it for 30min, and came back to a healthy 64% and a bill of just £4.87. It was then shifted to a 7.1kW charger to avoid overstaying our rapid charger welcome. Leaving it for a further 41min topped it up to 70% and we drove back home. The result was a 40.5-mile round trip — consisting of town and back road driving — which showed 4.6mi/kWh on the read-out, or 155MPGe, trumping Kia’s claimed efficiency.
It was time to measure just how quick the 201bhp Soul was in-gear and from a standing start using the RaceBox. 0-60mph arrived in a soul-stirring 6.6sec — a whole second quicker than Kia claims — and 30-70mph — in 6.4sec. Numbers that quickly hush those that judge it for its boxy appearance. Its 1,758kg mass can be felt in the corners as it lumbers around but you’ll quickly forget about that as you glide through town on its softer suspension.
Shopping day arrived and we left our local supermarket with three large bags of groceries. Popping the boot door reveals 315 litres — not bad — but it’s shallow because of the charging cables stowed under the boot floor. Our three large bags fitted fine and there was space for more, but if you realised you needed a large garden shredder from the middle aisle, you’d need to fold the seats flat and use the 1,339-litre space instead.
At the end of the week, it left a tremendous impression. Other EVs out there may make more sense but the Soul just has some kind of pull. My test car cost nearly £40,000, but if you fancy an EV and you don’t shy away from subtle quirkiness, then the Soul won’t disappoint. Prices start from £32,845 for the base 39kW Urban model, but I’d recommend spending the extra £6,200 for the Explore 64kWh battery, if you can.
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