Kia Soul EV long-term test: report 1

Our sub-editor wants to go green with an electric car, but doesn't want to miss out on making occasional long trips. Does the Kia Soul EV go the distance?...

Kia Soul EV 2021 long-term Haining and car

The car Kia Soul EV Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor

Why it’s here To find out whether electricity really can replace petrol when it comes to flexibility, cost and convenience

Needs to Cope with country lanes and motorways alike, accommodate an active lifestyle and be easy to live with day-to-day

Mileage 367 List price £34,945 (before gov't grant) Target Price £34,945 (before gov't grant) Price as tested £34,945 (before gov't grant) Official range 280 miles Test range 276 miles Options fitted none

24 September 2021 – shock therapy

I’m typing this while relaxing on a 1962 G-Plan rocking chair, while listening to a 1977 Pink Floyd record that’s spinning on a Sharp Optonica turntable that was made in 1980. Yet I’ve just used my Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone – which I’ve had for three years and would be lost without – to tell my new Kia Soul EV to start charging.

Yes, the Soul EV has got me excited to adopt a new way of doing things, and it’s rare that something comes along that has me changing my age-old habits. I mean, MP3 briefly attracted me from CDs and vinyl, but I ultimately rejected the format and, right now, I don’t have a single track stored on my phone. So, what’s behind this sudden willingness to move with the times?

Kia Soul EV 2021 long-term rear tracking

Actually, there are lots of things. For one, I had heard good things about how electric cars drive, and that’s pretty darned important to me. I also love the idea of driving a car that doesn’t spray my village and local countryside with toxic gases as I pass. And the timing is right, because like millions of others, I’m working from home a lot more than I used to, so I’m no longer faced with a daily commute of 125 miles each way.

Ditching petrol in favour of electricity makes sense, then, but why the Soul EV? Well, its official range of 280 miles on a charge should, in theory, allow me to get to and from the office when I need to without stopping to top up the battery. That figure beats what a lot of pricier electric cars can manage, and virtually matches what you get with the top version of the Soul’s bigger sister, the Kia e-Niro.

Kia Soul EV 2021 long-term infotainment system

I don’t need a car as practical as the e-Niro, though. Plus, with a full PC World’s worth of gadgets on board, my Soul shames its rivals in terms of kit for the cash. From essentials like an 8.0in infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat-nav and a DAB radio, through to niceties like a heated steering wheel and a wireless phone charging port, it’s got everything I need and a few things – such as mirrors that fold out to greet me when I approach the car – that I had never even thought of.

Automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and radar-assisted cruise control that automatically maintains a set distance from the car in front, are also included. Plus, the seats are trimmed in leather (the driver’s being heated and electrically adjustable), and there’s a head-up display to help me keep my eyes on the road and off the dashboard – which, incidentally, includes a 7.0in digital instrument display.

Optional extras? Nope, not really a Soul EV thing; my First Edition car even gave me eye-catching Neptune Blue metallic paint as standard.

Kia Soul EV 2021 long-term urban panning

So, on paper, anyway, by going electric I’m not losing out on standard kit or, based on the quoted 0-60mph time of 7.3sec, performance. The litmus test, though, will come with daily use. I plan to rely on feeding the car directly from the mains socket in my garage, but will I end up needing a home fast charger, or even find myself making regular trips to public chargers?

For risk-averse, set-in-my-ways me, to go electric is to boldy step into the future. Internal combustion engined cars really are on the way out, and, for me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m hoping, then, that the Soul EV will bring reassurance that we’re treading the right path. The only thing it’s done to upset me so far is force me back into MP3s if I want recorded music on the road, but that's par for the course these days, and I suppose an electric car with a record player is wishful thinking on my part.

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