Soul food from Kia's

new EV

Kia Soul EV, front
Kia Soul EV, side
Kia Soul EV, rear
Kia Soul EV, interior
Kia Soul EV, charging
Kia Soul EV, charging flap
Kia Soul EV, motor
Kia Soul EV, rear seats
Kia Soul EV, 2020, boot

TWO of the main concerns about electric cars, as far as buyers are concerned, are the initial purchase price and how far it can run on a single charge.

Well, Kia helps address these moans with the new Soul EV, a boxy, family five-door with a range of 280 miles - not far short of the sort of the distance many small hatches will go on a tankful of petrol.

And with a price tag of £33,795 (including government grant) it's among the least expensive EVs with a decent range.

The first electric Soul went on sale in UK in 2014, and became a better seller than the petrol model. This latest version is only available in Europe as battery powered.

A tad longer with a lengthier wheelbase, every panel is new although the quirky, angular shape has been retained. Cabin space is improved and the latest fascia design lifts the new Soul beyond even beyond the level of the highly praised, more expensive e-Niro crossover.

In fact, an Audi or BMW owner could hop into the latest Soul without being disappointed by the quality of the fitments or the ambience.

So what's it like to drive? Sprightly and surprisingly easy with light controls, a single ratio auto gearbox. There are four distinct driving modes, from Eco to Sport.

Steering wheel paddles operate regenerative braking which allows you to further stretch the range. It is actually possible to spare the brakes almost completely with generous use of the paddles once you get accustomed to electric motoring.

Best of all, the Soul EV is lots of fun. It's ‘point and squirt' acceleration allows it a take-off on a par with a warm hatch - 62mph comes up in just 7.6seconds - and the torque from the 64kW battery pack is 39 per cent up on the previous model and more like that of a powerful six-cylinder diesel.

All this is achieved with minimal commotion, just a distant hum when full power is applied. It's all credit to the build quality that there are no rattles or vibrations to disturb the somewhat eerie silence.

Passengers are well catered for within the stubby body. You sit fairly upright which benefits legroom. No problem with height as the Soul is taller than the e-Niro.

Less impressive is the boot space which at 315 litres is well down on most SUVs or crossovers. The e-Niro can hold 451 litres of cargo.

Only one model is available and that's in First Edition form, Kia's best equipped level. So you get leather seating, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display and 10.25-in touchscreen sat nav display.

Adding to the premium feel of the new car is the ten-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. You also get DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

There are several ways of charging the batteries, but a 0-80 per cent charge can be achieved in 54 minutes using a 100kW charger, while 7.2kW charger will take 9hrs 35min for a 0-100 per cent load.

And the price, depending on where it is charged and the provider, is likely to be £10 and £16...substantially less than a thankful of diesel or petrol.

There a currently - sorry! - believed to be in excess of 10,000 charging pints around the country with more appearing monthly. But most electric car owners tend to charge their vehicle either at home or at their places of work, according Kia executives.

It was ironic, however, that hotel where the new car launch took place didn't have enough charging points for the demo cars, which had to be replenished elsewhere!

A major plus for those considering going full electric is Kia's seven year/100k mile warranty which includes the battery pack and electric motor.

Kia is well down the road towards zero emissions. Electrified cars accounted for one in eight models sold in Europe in 2018 and by 2025 it is committed to have no fewer than 11 electric models in its line-up.


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