New Kia Niro EV vs Kia Soul EV: interiors
Historically, Kia’s electric Niro has always overshadowed its Soul sister. Is now the time for the underdog to fight back? We find out...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
Considering how close these two are on price, you wouldn't expect a big difference in quality, but the Kia Soul EV interior feels much nicer, providing soft-touch materials on almost every surface that you'll regularly come into contact with.
Conversely, the Kia Niro EV only has soft-touch material adorning the top of the dashboard, while everything else is covered with a variety of hard plastics. Thankfully, little of it is the unsightly scratchy kind of plastic that we often grumble about, so it doesn't feel cheap; it just isn't as upmarket as what you get in the Soul.
It's not particularly challenging to get comfortable in either car; both offer plenty of driver's seat and steering wheel adjustment, but in the Soul you control all of the seat adjustments electrically and you can tweak the lumbar support (you can't do this in the Niro unless you step up to mid-spec 3 trim). What's more, the Soul's front seats and steering wheel are heated – something you'll be thankful for on a cold British morning.
If you favour a high and commanding driving position, the Soul will also be your pick of this pair. Granted, you don't exactly peer down on other motorists like you would in a traditional large SUV, but you definitely feel like you're elevated higher than in the relatively low-slung Niro.
A handy byproduct of the Soul's loftier seating position is that visibility over its front end is excellent, and the slim windscreen pillars leave a clear view at junctions. The view over your shoulder is made clearer, too, by the small windows built into the otherwise thick rear pillars. By comparison, sitting lower in the Niro means forward visibility isn't quite as good, while the view over your shoulder is more obstructed. Fortunately, parking either car is made easy by the rear parking sensors and rear-view cameras that are fitted as standard.
Kia Niro EV
The Niro’s 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system is smaller than the Soul’s, but it’s easy to use and all the icons are usefully large. It’s quick, too, with barely any pause between your prods and it reacting. Unlike in the Soul, there’s no built-in sat-nav, but standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring negates that issue. We just wish the button that switches the touch-sensitive control bar from climate to infotainment mode was easier to hit on the move.
Kia Soul EV
Not only does the Kia Soul EV have a larger, 10.25in infotainment touchscreen, but it also has clearer, snazzier-looking graphics and is easier to read at a glance, plus you get builtin sat-nav and a more powerful Harman Kardon sound system with 10 speakers as standard. It also has physical buttons below the screen for key functions, instead of the Niro’s dual-purpose touch-sensitive panel. As with the Kia Niro EV system, there’s no delay between your prods and the system reacting.
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