Kia Soul EV long-term test
Our sub-editor wanted to go green with an electric car, but needed it to cope with long trips. Did the Kia Soul EV go the distance?...
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 5996 List price £34,995 Target Price £34,995 Price as tested £34,995 Official range 280 miles Test range 276 miles Trade-in value now £30,492 Dealer price now £34,415 Private price now £30,591 Running costs (excluding depreciation) electricity £459
23 February 2022 – Losing my train of thought
Parting with my Kia Soul EV got me thinking about the last days of steam. It’s known that grown men wept, fearing that train travel would no longer arouse the senses in quite the same way. The shriek of the whistle, the aroma of burning coal, the rhythmic left-right, left-right pulsing of the pistons; all would be consigned to sepia-tinted memory, living on only in protective reserves such as the wonderful East Anglian Railway Museum.
But, of course, the early diesel and electric trains that replaced them weren’t just more efficient and infinitely cleaner; they went on to attract a nostalgic following of their own. And similarly, the Soul EV has me reassured that moving on from petrol to electric power in our cars is far from a heartbreaking prospect.
Indeed, I’ll look back on my time with the Soul very fondly. For one thing, I love how Kia hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel, in the way that VW did with the Volkswagen ID.3’s irksome, button-free dashboard. Instead, the Soul EV has a refreshingly normal control layout. And while it would be even better with a BMW-style rotary dial for the infotainment system, the Soul’s on-screen menus are clear and easy to use. Plus, I found myself able to adjust the interior temperature by feel, without my eyes leaving the road, thanks to the well-placed, physical climate control buttons.
Then there’s the fact that the Soul goes like the clappers. Its 7.2sec 0-62mph time is decent enough in itself, but doesn’t tell the whole story, because the Soul EV is only just getting into its stride when that time is up. In fact, in Sport mode, it’s a more formidable overtaking tool than most cars I’ve driven, and that makes it terrifically relaxing on the motorway, where effortless power is always available.
Yes, sustained 65mph-plus running does drain the battery more quickly than bimbling around in the countryside, but long trips are perfectly possible – as my epic 240-mile regular commute to and from the What Car? office in the Soul proved. My summer holiday in Cornwall, with its sparsely distributed public chargers, did test my nerves a little, though.
On my local country roads, meanwhile, I loved flicking the steering wheel-mounted paddle to put the regenerative braking system into its fiercest setting. As well as feeding energy back into the battery that would otherwise be wasted, this smoothly slowed the car to a perfect cornering speed when I lifted off before a bend, setting me up to slingshot out the other side, muscle-car style, on a wave of relentless electric thrust.
Okay, a similarly quick petrol-powered car would have a fruity exhaust note to add to its appeal, but I found the Soul’s Jetsons-meets-Star Trek warp drive whine quite addictive.
So, despite being a near addict to free-revving petrol engines, I found myself having a lot of fun in the all-electric Soul, and that was a huge bonus given that we’re talking about what is a very practical SUV. My lanky frame had no problem fitting into any of the five seats, even if I climbed into the back with the seat in front set for my driving position. And while the boot looked unpromising at first, dropping the adjustable floor greatly increases its capacity; a big weekly shop barely touches the sides.
Gripes? Well, the fide is a bit on the firm side, and given that this car doesn’t exactly change direction like a housefly, softening it up a bit probably wouldn’t do it any harm. Plus, while everything inside feels robust and would undoubtedly stand up well to a family hammering, the Soul would feel more like a £34,995 machine if the materials were a bit plusher. Mind you, it has clung onto its value pretty tenaciously over my six months with it.
So, I can relate to the romantic appeal of steam locomotives, and in the same vein, I love the mechanical excitement inherent to combustion-engined cars. But right now, the idea of trading in the Soul EV for something petrol-powered feels like a big step backwards.
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