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ROAD TEST: Pound for pound Kia’s Soul EV may be electric car champion

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The electric cars that get the most attention are the ones with sky high prices but the Kia Soul EV deserves much more attention.

Cars like the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace may be show stoppers but they also come with price tags double or treble the average annual salary.

The Kia Soul EV costs from just £32,445 once the government’s electric car grant has been factored in. That’s superb value, especially considering it will cost buttons to run.

The first electric Soul was produced in 2014. It’s now in its third generation and Kia has dropped petrol and diesel power from the Soul’s UK line up, leaving the EV as its only model.

Lots of range

Part of its success is down to the R-word. No matter how many manufacturers argue that the average journey is less than 30 miles, electric car buyers want range.

And the Soul EV delivers it. According to official figures it will do 280 miles on a single charge. That puts it up there with the majority of Tesla’s models.

It comes pretty close to its official figure as well. I drove from Dundee to Troon, a distance of 115 miles, and the car still had 50% battery capacity left. That’s excellent considering the car sat at 70mph virtually the entire way (electric cars offer their best range at lower speeds) and that the air conditioning was pumping out cold air to combat the summer heat.

If all your driving is done at 30mph or less you can expect to get up to 400 miles from a single charge.

The Soul’s boxy looks may not be for everyone but I grew to like its utilitarian appearance. It’s certainly practical, with plenty of room for four large adults and a spacious boot that has underfloor storage for the charging cables.

The interior is a pleasant place to be as well. The perforated leather seats are comfortable for long journeys, there’s a crisp 10.25in touchscreen, and my First Edition model came with plenty of goodies including heated seats and steering wheel and a 10 speaker Harmon Kardon sound system.

Fast and comfortable

The electric motor produces 150kW (201bhp in old money), making the Kia Soul EV a speedy beast. It’ll get from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. Unlike some electric cars it doesn’t run out of puff at higher speeds and overtaking manoeuvres can be pulled off quickly and safely.

A lack of engine sound means a modest amount of tyre noise is all you hear at 70mph, making the Soul EV an excellent cruiser.

There are four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and Eco+. The latter two increase engine braking and decrease throttle response to better eke out the battery’s charge. Sport goes the other way, making it easier to deploy full power. After a bit of playing around I left it in Normal the majority of the time, though the Eco modes will come in handy if you’re trying to cover a long journey with few charging stops.

Charging up

It takes an hour and a quarter to take the battery from 0-80% using a 50kW charger. The good thing is the range is so great you don’t have to plug it in very often. I only charged the Soul EV once in the week I had it.

Niggles? There aren’t many. Perhaps my only real gripe is the electric motor and other gubbins are located under the bonnet. This is down to the Soul originally being designed for an internal combustion engine. Most electric cars designed from scratch have an additional boot in the front that’s ideal for storing the charging cables. This means you can get them out to charge without having to empty the main boot to get at them. It’s no deal breaker but it is a minor nuisance.

The Kia Soul EV is practical, great value for money, cheap to run and good to drive. Pound for pound it’s one of the best electric cars on the market.

Price: £32,445

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Top speed: 104mph

CO2 emissions: 0g/km

Range: 280 miles


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