Electric Car Awards 2022: Best electric small SUV

With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best electric small SUV...

WINNER: Best electric small SUV

Kia Soul EV Maxx

2022 Electric Car Awards logo - vertical blue

In 1986, Huey Lewis and the News told us that it’s hip to be square. Now, there is a chance that they weren’t singing about the boxy Kia Soul EV, but let’s imagine they were, because this small electric SUV looks like nothing else on the road, and that’s kind of hip.

Being all straight lines and right angles, the Soul’s shape is good news for interior space; a tall family will be able to fit inside just fine. You’d need to be well over six feet tall to feel cramped in the front, and there’s more space in the back than in the larger Kia Niro EV family SUV from the class above, even if the seating position is a bit more upright. The fl at floor means there’s plenty of space for everyone’s feet, too, even if it’s a bit narrow for three adults to sit side by side in comfort.

Yes, the Soul’s boot could be bigger; rivals such as the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e have the upper hand here. Still, the Soul’s short, upright 315-litre boot can handle a serious supermarket trip, and dropping the rear seatbacks to form a big, flat load area is child’s play.

Best electric small SUV 2022 - Kia Soul EV rear

While the Soul is hard to split from the e-2008 and Mokka-e on handling (all three cars lean quite a bit in corners) and the e-2008 is softer over bumps, those rivals are nothing like as convincing when it comes to performance. With a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.9sec, the Soul simply walks away from them, thanks to an electric motor that produces 201bhp, against the 134bhp of both rivals.

The Soul has a bigger battery, too. Its 64kWh usable capacity brings an official range of 281 miles; the 50kWh batteries of the e-2008 and Mokka-e give them 214 miles and 209 miles respectively.

Another string to the Soul’s bow is its simplicity. Everything about it is easy to use, from the clear, 7.0in digital instrument panel to the logically arranged dashboard. With big, chunky controls for the air conditioning, it’s easy to adjust the temperature at a glance.

Best electric small SUV 2022 - Kia Soul EV dashboard

The infotainment system is straightforward yet well equipped, too; it gives you sat-nav with 3D graphics, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, and you get a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with a subwoofer.

Speaking of simplicity, there’s only one Soul EV trim level, and its name, Maxx, is a clue that it’s loaded with equipment. You get a handy head-up display that projects key driving information directly into your line of sight, plus there’s a heated steering wheel and heated seats, as well as an adaptive cruise control system that takes the effort out of motorway cruising and traffic jams alike.

Priced to match the e-2008, the Soul EV really is worth making a song and dance about.

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