Kia Soul EV 2020 First Drive Review

The new Kia Soul EV has a 280 mile electric range, more power and torque than the previous model, and it has zero percent Benefit in Kind tax for company car drivers from April 2020.

  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
  • Kia Soul EV 2020
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:  Kia Soul EV First Edition
  • Fuel:  Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP combined): 280 miles

Summary

  • 280 mile electric driving range
  • More power and torque than the previous model
  • Practical body style with improved styling, although still somewhat quirky
  • The normal refined and responsive electric driving experience

Background

The last Kia Soul was available with petrol, diesel and electric powertrains (and the Soul EV was Kia’s first all-electric model). It’s a reflection of the fast-paced progress towards electric propulsion that the new model is only available as an EV in Europe.

Kia Soul EV 2020Kia Soul EV 2020

Design & Engineering

The new Kia Soul EV has a 64kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, a 201bhp electric motor and a 1-speed automatic transmission, with drive through the front wheels.

Although the body shape is similar to that of the previous model – ie. boxy – the styling is a big improvement in our eyes, and the colour of our test car made it look like a normal car rather than an ‘eco-special’ which was the case with the styling and colour scheme of the last Soul EV model. There are now larger 17-inch wheels rather than the 16-inch wheels on the last Soul EV, and this helps with making the car look a bit more ‘normal’, which is a good thing as more mainstream car buyers switch to EVs.

Thanks to the boxy shape, there’s decent space inside, but the boot isn’t huge. The interior feels modern and high quality, as well as being functional like most Kia dashboards.

Kia Soul EV 2020Kia Soul EV 2020

Kia Soul EV Driving Experience

The new Kia Soul EV is as quiet, refined and responsive as any of the latest crop of EVs such as the Kia e-Niro. It’s a much better driving experience than equivalent petrol or diesel cars. There are no gears, no clutch, and there’s instant acceleration when you want it. It’s also comfortable thanks to impressive ride quality, and the handling is good thanks to the battery in the floor delivering a low centre of gravity.

There are four drive modes – Eco+, Eco, Normal and Sport. They all do what they say on the tin, but it’s worth noting that Sport mode makes this feel like a rapid car by maximising the response from the constantly-available 100% torque.

The Soul EV is front-wheel drive, which means that occasionally – and particularly on wet roads – the 395 Nm of torque can be too much for the front tyres, and some wheelspin and/or torque steer can result, but during normal driving this usually isn’t a problem.

You can change the amount of brake regeneration using steering wheel-mounted paddles (offering three levels of regen or no regen), which is a useful feature that helps in the absence of engine braking. This recuperation assists with energy efficiency, as does the ability to heat just the driver’s side of the cabin.

The drive on the launch was relatively short so we’ll be reporting more fully on the Soul EV driving experience after living with the car for a week in the near future.

Kia Soul EV 2020Kia Soul EV 2020

Kia Soul EV Driving Range and Charging

The WLTP combined electric driving range for the Kia Soul EV is 280 miles. This increases to 402 miles on the WLTP City driving cycle.

On our limited drive at the launch it wasn’t possible to test the real-world driving range but we’re aiming to do this very soon. We’ve previously achieved 317 miles and 325 miles from the Kia e-Niro at average speeds of around 60mph, so we would expect that the Soul EV could also manage 300 miles with careful driving.

The Soul EV has a Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charger enabling it to be charged from 0-80% in just 54 minutes at a 100kW DC charger (if you can find one). The 0-80% charging time increases to 1 hour 15 minutes at a more common 50kW rapid charger.

Charging at a 7.2kW home charger will give a 0-100% charge in 9 hours 35 minutes. The same charge using a 3 pin plug will take 31 hours.

How to charge an electric car

 

Kia Soul EV 2020Kia Soul EV 2020

Price and Model Range

There’s just one ‘First Edition’ spec level for the Kia Soul EV in the UK and this costs £33,795 (after the UK government plug-in car grant, which as at February 2020 is £3,500). Running costs could be around one-fifth of those of a petrol car, and the big news for company car drivers is that Benefit in Kind tax will be zero percent from April 2020, which could save thousands of pounds per year for the employee, as well as the potential to save costs in fuel and National Insurance for the company.

Kia’s seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty covers the car’s electric motor and battery pack.

You can no longer buy a petrol or diesel Soul in the UK. There’s also the all-electric Kia e-Niro crossover.

Conclusion

The new Kia Soul EV looks better than its predecessor, it has a much longer range (now 280 miles), and it’s excellent to drive. It still has a practical body style, and the quality of the interior has improved. Is there anything wrong with it? Not really. Well, except for one thing: it’s too quirky to fit in any of the conventional car categories. Kia describes the Soul as an ‘urban crossover’. But customers will probably expect a car to look more like an SUV or 4×4 to fit in that category – and the Soul doesn’t really look like a 4×4. Due to this, Kia is forecasting many more sales of the e-Niro than the Soul EV, because car buyers want SUVs. So there’s genuinely very little wrong with the Soul EV, apart from the fact that customers don’t really know what it is. Which is a shame, and this shouldn’t stop you buying one, because the Kia Soul EV is a very good car, and it gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures Kia Soul EV 2020 First Drive Review

  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Electric driving range (WLTP combined): 280 miles
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):  £0 year 1
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2020/21): 0%
  • Price:  £33,795 (after the UK government plug-in car grant)
  • Insurance group:  34
  • Power:  201 PS
  • Torque:  395 Nm
  • Max speed:  104 mph
  • 0-62 mph:  7.6 seconds
  • Weight:  1,757 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor