Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV, front
Kia Soul EV, nose
Kia Soul EV, charger panel
Kia Soul EV, interior
Kia Soul EV, rear
Kia Soul EV, side
Kia Soul EV, boot

THE Kia Soul has always been bursting with character and the latest version - an electric vehicle - adds to the all-round appeal of the line-up.

The Soul EV is the Korean car maker's first battery-electric vehicle to be sold globally and is the result of almost 30 years of research and development by Kia into electric powertrains - and it doesn't disappoint.

It looks like an elongated Tardis with its upright box-like design, blue paintwork and exceptionally spacious interior packed with top notch gadgets and techno treats.

It's very clear that Kia wanted its EV model to look as similar as possible to the Soul powered by more traditional means, but there are a few stand-out features of note.

For example, there is no grille - this is replaced by a sliding body-coloured plate that covers the charging points. And, of course, there is no need for any filler cap either plus there are different styled rear light clusters.

The cabin is more in line with traditional Kia models but with a gloss white finish to the gearstick surround and centre console. Digital dials replace the analogue versions used on other models.

The car's batteries are mounted under the body in a special protective casing which makes them easy to reach for any maintenance work. The ducts to heat and cool them down are positioned beneath the rear passenger seats and the only impact this has is an 80mm reduction in rear seat legroom, but Kia has compensated by introducing new materials in the seat construction.

So like the rest of the Soul range, the EV model is a compact but spacious five-seat crossover which offers all the versatility an active family could ask for.

It features a 281-litre boot that is accessed through a wide-opening, high-lift tailgate. With the 60:40 split folding rear seats dropped flat this capacity can be increased to 891 litres.

The list of creature comforts supplied as standard also impresses with the likes of an eight-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, sat nav, DAB radio with MP3 compatibility, steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, front speaker mood lights, a heated steering wheel and parking sensors all included in the £24,995 asking price (including the Government's plug-in grant).

The electric motor that drives the Soul EV develops 81.4 kilowatts which is the equivalent to 109bhp in a combustion-engine car. And whilst it may not sound that powerful, the car proved nice and lively with ample power on tap at all times.

It can sprint from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 90mph. It has a very impressive 132-mile range and can be charged in one of two ways.

A standard domestic socket can be used and this will take about 10 to 13 hours for a full charge. Alternatively, there is the option of a fast charger whereby the time can be reduced to approximately five hours.

On to performance, and once again the Soul EV is fun, fun, fun all the way.

The silent start up is quite eerie as too is the silent nature of the car as you pull away. The acceleration is smooth and brisk and the all-round handling cannot be faulted as the car moves along at quite a click.

Drivers benefit from excellent all-round visibility and all dials, controls and instrumentation readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use.

The lack of any engine noise and the design of the car mean you will experience some wind sound when the car is driven at a pace, but that was my only slight gripe about an otherwise excellent vehicle.

The Soul EV has Flex Steer which means the driver can adjust the degree of assistance according to need. For example, the comfort setting can be used for parking and manoeuvring in narrow streets and then sport mode is better for faster motorway driving. There is a normal setting that fits neatly between the two.

In addition, the Soul EV has two different performance levels - Drive and Brake - which can be used to maximise the car's range and regenerative capabilities when required. Kia claims a range of around 130 miles on a full charge.

All in all, the Kia Soul EV is a fabulous all-rounder for those who want an electric vehicle.

FAST FACTS

Kia Soul EV

Price:£29,995

Mechanical:109bhp electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed:90mph

0-62mph:11.2 seconds

Combined MPG:132 miles

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions:0g/km

Bik rating:5%

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