“The first time I drove a Kia was when we did the USA coast-to-coast with the kids in a people mover. Five of us covered 4,000 miles in a couple of weeks and the car was perfect for the trip.
Fast forward six years or so and Kia have had their Soul EV in the market in the UK for over a year. Having seen some great reviews, including that of Robert ‘Fully Charged’ Llewelyn, I decided to lease one for a year or two from Fleetdrive Electric.
The Kia Soul EV is an electric conversion of their petrol car, as opposed to being a ground up designed and built pure electric vehicle.
A couple of years ago I might have thought that a bad thing but as soon as you get into the Soul EV it is clear they have done an exceptionally good job with it.
First up, the driving position is excellent; The driver’s seat’s raise and lower lever is perfect for some of the fussier members of my family, particularly Mrs G for whom driver’s position has not been ideal in some other EV’s.
Powering the car up brings another pleasant surprise; The 27 kWh battery provides a range, they say, of about 130 miles. I haven’t driven it that far in one journey yet, but having used it around town this last couple of weeks, the range reading seems very accurate. That I can go six days says something about not just the range but how much the Soul EV suits our city motoring requirements.
BMW with the i3 and Nissan with the Leaf, decided to make their EV’s look a little quirky. Kia though follow Renault and make theirs look just like a regular car. Some think it’s appearance a little boxy but I’ve grown to like it a lot.
Like Kia’s competitors, the battery is under the floor so you get all the stability and road-holding benefits of batteries in that position, as well as great cabin space for front and rear passengers.
Other comforts include the most efficient front seat warmers I have experienced in a car (and believe me that has been most welcome on recent winter mornings) as is the heated steering wheel. So is the drive-away central locking, which gives you confidence of personal safety without having to think about it.
Big thumbs up too for the touch screen controls. Intuitive NAV and other settings and a DAB/FM/FM radio which has a ton of pre-sets – more than any other car I have owned. Terrific in my line of work.
Also good is the proximity and door handle locking/unlocking which I hadn’t expected in a car at this price.
As for the driving itself, the Soul EV is nippy – even with the weight of 27kWH of battery on board. I almost always drive in the power-saving eco mode but its good to know there’s a bit more acceleration there in standard mode if you need it.
Nobody expects an EV town or city car like the Soul EV to do the distance that an ICE vehicle can do in one stint, but with this vehicle we really are at a place where for most people, most of the time, the EV is much more than fit for purpose. While we wait for the next generation Leaf from Nissan, and the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model C, I think the Kia Soul EV is the best in class available right now.”