Kia on a charge with

latest Soul

Kia Soul EV, side action 2
Kia Soul EV, side action
Kia Soul EV, front static
Kia Soul EV, front action
Kia Soul EV, front action 2
Kia Soul EV, side static
Kia Soul EV, rear action
Kia Soul EV, rear seats
Kia Soul EV, front seats
Kia Soul EV, dashboard
Kia Soul EV, dash detail
Kia Soul EV, boot

KIA hopes there are around 1,500 people in the next 12 months who fancy the new Soul EV, which comes with two features that will help it stand out from the herd - battery only power and looks that make it easy to spot in a crowded car park.

That's a modest sales target for Kia UK, which expect to shift a much larger - 8,000 - number of more conventional looking pure electric versions of its e-Niro with precisely the same battery and electric drive doing the work.

Both will officially touch 280 miles range from fully charged (the e-Niro a trifling two miles more, actually) but the latter is simply a pretty conventional looking crossover, the motor trade's shorthand for a hatchback with mild SUV pretentions.

Which does not apply to the new Soul. You must have visually registered the first version of the Korean-made Soul when it hit our shores a few years ago. And you will either have loved its chiselled brick stance - or reckoned it so hideous you wanted it moved, at once.

Enough people thought the first Soul such a delicious departure from the boring aesthetic of everything else on the road they bought one and then, when they eventually stopped looking at the car, found it a friendly family runaround that never let them down.

Part-way through the life of Soul mark one a battery-only version was added to the previous petrol or diesel line up and, don't you know, it outsold both others combined in its last year on sale across Europe.

So, not that surprising to learn Kia won't be offering petrol or diesel models of this latest Soul in Europe, where every full electric sale makes the lawmakers smile when they brood over how much tax to pin to a new model.

Kia is not only keeping the choice of power simple, UK buyers have but one trim level to ponder, called First Edition and costing £33,795 after deduction of the £3,500 sweetener the government currently points at electric-only cars.

If that sounds some way from a bargain, a look at other pure electric vehicles may soften your verdict (none of them sells on price alone) and the new Soul EV is a distinct advance on the old one.

How about a power output massively boosted from 109bhp to 201bhp, enough to whistle the newcomer to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and feel properly, briskly GTI while doing so. It will also hit 104mph and all without adding even a trace of of CO2 to the atmosphere.

It also, to these eyes at least, looks enough toned down visually to now simply look nicely individual, while still obviously a successor in the Soul story. Not nearly so Marmite as before.

And there's more on the credit side of the ledger, with a detailed trawl through the kit count that comes with your First Edition. Inside, you'll find black leather upholstery, heated front seats and a crisp sounding 10 speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, with the same idea of mounting the high frequency tweeters at the edge of the dash that people liked in earlier versions.

With a powertrain that makes no noise, only road road and wind rush prevent the interior of the Soul EV from feeling like your living room as you enjoy your music on the move.

The list of standard kit goes on; with 17ins alloy wheels, full LED headlights, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, auto air conditioning and regenerative braking controlled from steering wheel paddles, that push current into the battery as you slow down.

The First Edition also gets a big touchscreen navigation system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with head up display, wireless mobile phone charger and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.

So, pretty well all present and correct on the fixtures and fittings front, you'd have to say.

Drives pretty well too, with enough instant urge on tap (an electric car characteristic) to make the Soul EV an entertaining drive, with a smooth auto gearbox adding a positive note. The suspension does a decent job of taking the car's considerable weight (1,757kgs) without banging into the potholes our roads are covered in at the moment.

But back to the price. Here is a car with enough room for a young family (and their luggage) that will travel far enough on a single, cheap at home, charge to make a realistic choice as an only car.

Add in Kia's seven year or 100,000 mile warranty and the ease of servicing a car without an oily, demanding engine to fettle and those predicted 1,500 a year buyers are in for a pleasant surprise.


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