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Kia Soul EV First Edition

Click to view picture gallery“Kias all-new pure-electric Soul EV
  offers much more than just standout
  styling; its green-as-they-come
  tailpipe emissions and refined
  driveability are just two of its many
  very likeable qualities...”


IT'S TRUE THAT MANY of today's cars seem like peas out of the same pod and that makes the Soul EV's modish styling a breath of fresh air fronted by an appealingly bluff nose defined by wraparound über-slim LED light strips above a low-slung trapezoidal grille, with deep flanks that flow back to a geometrically squared-off glasshouse and a vertical tail dramatically ringed by boomerang-shaped LED lights, there's nothing else quite like it.

Under the characterful and eye-catching urban crossover skin pulses an all-electric powertrain. And with a game-changing combined range of 280 miles from a single charge (or an amazing 402 in a city environment) it's more than able to take on traditional combustion-engined rivals — and all with absolutely no range anxiety. Given that the deadline to officially 'cancel' all non-electric powertrains is a fast-closing 2030, it makes sense to stay ahead of the wave by switching to pure electric now.

The Soul EV doesn’t
force you to put your life
on hold while it
charges — hooked up
to a 100kW fast-charger
the battery pack can be
recharged from 20 to 80
per cent capacity (so
good for another 220+
miles) in just 42 minutes
while you take a break
and enjoy a grande
mochaccino...”
Do so and not only can you bask in that feelgood 'driving without polluting' payback, but there are no risks involved — electrically speaking, Kia have done it all before with their hugely successful e-Niro crossover which shares the same electrified powertrain.

Not only that, but the Soul EV doesn't force you to put your life on hold while it charges. The onboard charging hardware enables quicker charge-ups: hooked up to a 100kW fast-charger the battery pack can be recharged from 20 to 80 per cent capacity (so good for another 220+ miles) in just 42 minutes while you take a break and enjoy a Grande mochaccino. Good to have, too, is a SatNav that locates the nearest public charger for you before directing you unerringly to it.

The Soul EV's pure-electric motor kicks out a very persuasive 201bhp — it's satisfyingly lively with 0-60mph done and dusted in a cutting 7.6 seconds. Top speed is 104mph which is fine — given our motorway and dual carriageway 70mph limits any more would be a waste. A muscular 291lb ft of torque, put down through the front wheels, explains the rapid whoosh whenever you squeeze the accelerator; even a light press with your right foot will see the Soul spurt forward. Joining motorways is equally seamless and once in the flow there's still plenty of power in hand.

Getting aboard is a keyless cinch; a Start engine button continues the no-key-needed theme. Gear selection doesn't come any easier — a rotary knob where you'd expect to find a traditional gear lever offers Reverse, Neutral, or Drive; Park is selected with a light push on its 'P' centre spot. You also get Drive Mode Select so can choose between four drive programmes: Normal, Eco and Eco+ (to maximise range), and Sport.

Paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel enable you to modify the degree of regenerative braking on-the-fly. The more 'regen' you dial up (there are four levels of intensity) the more deceleration you get whenever you lift off — effectively you're getting the same response you'd get from dropping a cog (or two, or even three!) down a manual gearbox. Simultaneously you're also harvesting kinetic energy to recharge the battery pack. Absolutely a win-win situation.

If you like, you can use the strongest level to bring the Soul to a gentle stop without necessarily needing to press the brake pedal — perfect for 'single pedal' driving in the city. For those who want to do more than just pootle, using the highest levels as 'engine braking' adds to the driving pleasure along challenging country roads.

Paddle-shifters behind
the steering wheel enable
you to modify the degree
of regenerative braking
on-the-fly.
If you like, you can use
the strongest level to
bring the Soul to a gentle
stop without necessarily
needing to press the
brake pedal — perfect for
‘single pedal’ driving in
the city.
Along challenging
country roads, using the
highest levels as ‘engine
braking’ adds to the
driving pleasure for those
who want to do more
than just pootle...”
The generous glasshouse capping the Soul's upright crossover-esque body creates a roomy and airy cabin within its compact 4.2-metre footprint. You'll find loads of headroom and, thanks to sides that don't taper inwards (as do those of most cars), masses of room for your shoulders and elbows along with a wide centre console that definitely aids social distancing!

The shapely and supportive leather-clad seats are firmly bolstered and well padded, and come with two-stage heating; the driver goes one-up on his or her front passenger with eight-way electrical adjustability and powered lumbar.

In addition to the comfort, the high-set seating position also guarantees first-rate visibility. In combination with large windows, slim screen pillars and a flat-bonneted nose, the deep back screen and vertical rear corners make it easy to know exactly where the Soul starts and finishes.

Consequently, placing it precisely, even in the anarchy of rush-hour traffic, is a doddle; parking is equally straightforward and is aided by a reversing camera with active guidelines plus rear sensors. Oh, and you will definitely be glad of the heated rim that comes with the great-to-grip multifunction steering wheel.

In terms of ambiance the Soul also scores highly. The fit-and-finish is spot-on with some distinctive detailing such as the eye-catching 3D texturing on the front and rear door panels and the signature 'tweeter' speakers book-ending the dash. Equally welcome are plenty of large cubbies for your personal stuff, including a drop-down sunglasses case and bottle-holding door bins. All told this Soul is a haven from the on-road scramble of daily life and a likeably de-stressing place to spend time in.

Comms are well specified, starting with a 'floating' 10.25-inch touchscreen mounted centrally on the fascia that hosts the latest version of Kia's comprehensive infotainment and navigation system. It's a great setup with intuitive and responsive menus (and speedy 'jump' buttons) enhanced by clear and sharp graphics that can be taken in at a glance. Usefully, the screen can be divided up into three sections enabling the driver to view either a full-width single display (say, for navigation) or combine up to three elements (for example; entertainment, battery, and mapping) side-by-side at the same time.

Kia's new UVO App lets you, via your smartphone, remotely check the battery charge level, pre-charge the battery, and control the heating before you arrive at your car. In conjunction with the touchscreen it also provides live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking including price, location and availability. In addition it shows charging station locations, charger availability, and connection compatibility.

It’s fun to drive and,
with minimal body-roll
under cornering and
plenty of stabilising
weight from the battery pack located beneath
the cabin, it feels
reassuringly planted.
The steering is nicely
direct and combined
with decent grip at the
front-end delivers
confidence-inspiring bite
when you flick through
bends...”
Audio entertainment is provided by a DAB radio, Bluetooth with music streaming, and a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system with subwoofer and external amplifier. Two fast-charge USB ports sit in the centre console and there's an SOS button in the roof. Making life even easier is voice control for phone, radio, and navigation functions.

Naturally Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted, both with voice control, plus you'll find not one but two unexpected upscale treats: a first-class head-up display (turn-by-turn navigation directions, road speed information, and posted speed limit) plus WiFi smartphone charging. The SatNav's 3D mapping is foolproof and the spoken directions can't be faulted. All the driving information you'll ever need, including active mapping graphic prompts, is shown on a seven-inch digital instrument panel flanked by unmissably large readouts for the range and road speed.

Trim-wise there's just one — the feature-rich First Edition. In addition to the leather, heated seats and steering wheel, head-up display, and WiFi phone charging already mentioned, there's smart keyless entry with an engine Start/Stop button, solar glass (screen and front windows), privacy glass (rear windows and tailgate), electric handbrake with autohold, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power windows, automatic AirCon with a power-saving 'driver only' mode, auto lights and wipes, powerfolding heated (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving) door mirrors, roof rails, and a set of swish-looking 17-inch alloy wheels.

Kia has also packed in plenty of safety tech with Forward Collision-avoidance Assist, Blind Spot Detection with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, traction and stability control systems, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and Lane Keeping Assist. There's also Lane Follow Assist that controls acceleration, braking and steering: at speeds of up to 100mph it will maintain a safe distance from the car in front while monitoring road markings to keep the Soul EV centred in its lane.

The Soul EV is also equipped with seven airbags (including one for the driver's knees) plus there are LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED rear combination lights, High Beam Assist for automatic dip/main switching, auto lights, rain-sensing wipers, speed limiter, tyre pressure monitoring, Driver Attention Warning, Hill-start Assist Control, automatic speed-sensing door locking, and child seat fixings on the rear outer chairs.

The spacious glasshouse benefits the driver and whoever's riding shotgun as well as those using the broad rear cabin. Entry and exit is effortless courtesy of wide-opening doors and convenient hip-points. Despite sitting about six inches higher than those up front, rear passengers don't want for head- or foot-room (the centre tunnel is barely an inch high which is good news if three are seated across the back) and there's masses of knee- and leg-room so no problem stretching those shanks.

Luggage is stowed in
a 315-litre boot: it’s big,
deep and comes with
a versatile two-level floor
(a full-width folding lid
makes for easy access to
the lower area).
The 60:40-split rear
seatbacks fold flat and
with them down
the resulting cargo bay
extends to a practical
1,339 litres.
Loading in either mode
is easy; and the flip-up
rear parcel shelf-style
luggage cover is quicker
and less fiddly
than any rollerblind...”
The rear seats are well padded with backrest angles designed to quickly put passengers at ease. Deep, long windows that drop all the way into the doors are another plus — not just for the expansive views, but also for fresh air fans. The outer armrests are comfy, and the door bins hold bottles, plus there's a handy charging USB point as well as a seatback pouch.

Travelling in a Soul EV is a pleasant experience. It deals nonchalantly with lumps and bumps and even tiresome potholes are taken in its stride. The ride-enhancing, fully independent suspension combined with supportive seats and the refined electric powertrain creates a laid-back and hassle-free way to get around. But as well as being comfortable, the Soul EV also surprises with its driveability.

It's great fun and, with minimal body-roll under cornering and plenty of stabilising weight from the battery pack located beneath the cabin, it feels reassuringly planted. The steering is nicely direct and combined with decent grip at the front-end delivers confidence-inspiring bite when you flick through bends. And when it comes to shedding speed, the brakes serve up consistent, linear deceleration with decent feel.

Luggage is stowed in a 315-litre boot: it's big, deep and comes with a versatile two-level floor (a full-width folding lid makes for easy access to the lower area). The 60:40-split rear seatbacks fold flat and with them down the resulting cargo bay extends to a practical 1,339 litres. Loading in either mode is easy; and the flip-up rear parcel shelf-style luggage cover is quicker and less fiddly than any rollerblind.

A very accomplished EV with plenty of 'toys', the all-electric Soul's headline appeal is its real-life affirming range — 280 miles perfectly qualifies it to service most people's daily driving quota. Plus, of course, there's the added appeal of convenient at-home charge-ups at a fraction of the cost of fossil fuel, and no road tax. Throw in as-green-as-they-get emissions and the fact that Kia's pure-electric Soul is a joy to zip around in and you have the perfect future-proof car. ~ MotorBar
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Kia Soul EV First Edition | £34,295
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds | Range: 280 miles
Power: 201bhp | Torque: 291lb ft | CO2: 0g/km

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