Kia has two versions of the Soul EV available, although as yet, hasn’t confirmed whether just one or both will be coming to the UK. We haven’t driven the 39kWh model, but with 134bhp it’s claimed to get you from 0-62mph in under 10sec and, if driven sensibly, has a WLTP range of up to 172 miles.
We have, though, experienced the 64kWh model. Officially this will manage up to 281 miles and, with 201bhp, it’s quicker flat out, too. Like the bigger e-Niro, it feels urgent from the moment you put your foot down and continues to pull consistently up to motorway speeds. 0-62mph takes just 7.9sec, which is the kind of pace that will match the fastest Nissan Leaf and completely outgun an VW e-Golf or Renault Zoe. Indeed, it’s as rapid as all but the quickest petrol or diesel-powered Seat Atecas.
Naturally, being electric, that pace comes cloaked in serenity. The motor emits nothing more than a faint murmur when pushed — the Soul EV is even quieter than the e-Niro in this respect — making the Soul EV a far more tranquil travelling companion than any equivalent diesel SUV.
The brakes are pretty progressive, which isn’t something you can say of all electric cars. That’s because regenerative braking, which tops up the battery when you slow down, can make a brake pedal feel inconsistent, leading to jerky stops. The Soul EV’s brakes, though, are almost as progressive as those of any regular car. You can vary the amount of regeneration using paddles on the steering wheel, and when the system is set to maximum you can stop the car pretty effectively simply by lifting off the accelerator.
At 70mph there is some road and wind noise, while, around town, it’s the suspension thudding noticeably over bumps that’s the most prevalent audible intrusion.
Speaking of suspension, the ride is quite a bit more comforting than that of the Hyundai Kona Electric, and slightly softer than the e-Niro. This makes the Soul EV calmer over potholes in town or undulations on the motorway. That said, it’s still choppier than the rather more sophisticated ride you experience in the Volkswagen e-Golf.
Electric cars tend not to handle as deftly as the best conventionally powered rivals, primarily due to weight — their big batteries are heavy, and more weight nearly always equals less agility. So, if you want an SUV that handles sharply, for now at least, we’d suggest sticking with petrol or diesel rivals such as the Seat Arona or Ateca.
Even next to other electric cars, such as the e-Niro or e-Golf, the Soul EV rolls a little bit more through twists and turns, but what’s more annoying than its body control is its overly quick steering. It’s far too lively off centre and, at the same time, lacks much sense of connection to the wheels. Whether you’re tackling an A-road or trying to stick to your lane on a motorway, this leaves you thinking harder about each input you make than is ideal.