In-depth reviews

Kia Soul EV review

The Kia Soul EV is more interesting than the Niro EV, with its bold styling, generous kit levels and impressive range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Impressive range
  • Well-equipped
  • Good to drive
  • Niro EV is more practical
  • Polarising looks
  • Plain interior
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The Kia Soul EV is the black sheep of the Kia family and, in our eyes, one of the more underrated electric cars on sale. The new entry-level Urban model in particular, because it serves as a fairly practical and surprisingly spacious alternative to zero-emissions city cars and superminis that cost similar money. 

The pricier Explore model on the other hand, faces off against electric SUVs with more boot space and better technology. But few are as interesting to look at as the Soul EV, and Kia’s boxy baby SUV is still comfortable, easy to drive in town and comes with plenty of kit as standard.

About the Kia Soul EV

The original Kia Soul EV was one of the first electric cars we saw in the UK, but sales were hampered by a high price, limited range, a charging network in its infancy and general apathy towards EVs. But 2014 was ever such a long time ago.

Clearly Kia was confident in the quirky electric SUV’s potential, as 2020 saw the arrival of the second generation Soul EV – based on the running gear of the South Korean brand’s popular e-Niro that had launched just one year earlier. Petrol and diesel-powered versions of the Soul were also given the boot from UK showrooms. The all-electric compact SUV was then given some minor tweaks in 2021, before a much more significant round of updates were implemented in early 2023.

At launch the Soul was available with just one battery and in one lavishly equipped trim level initially called First Edition, then Maxx. Now though, buyers have a choice of two models which have different batteries, power outputs and standard equipment.

The new, entry-level Urban model uses a 39.2kWh battery to power a single 134bhp electric motor, and offers a maximum range of up to 171 miles – or more than 250 miles if you stick to driving in town, according to Kia. Standard kit on the Urban includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a reversing camera, a seven-inch driver’s display and a new, smaller eight-inch central touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. There are plenty of safety systems onboard too, including forward collision assist and driver attention warning.

The Explore version essentially replaced the old Maxx specification of the Soul EV. So it uses the same 64kWh battery and 201bhp electric motor, which boosts the car’s range up to 280 miles. Inside is a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors, heated leather front seats and steering wheel, plus roof rails.

At the time of writing, the Soul EV Urban starts from around £33,000, while the Soul EV Explore comes in at over £39,000. Both price tags are somewhat problematic, because the entry-level model costs about the same as long range versions of the MG ZS EV and MG4 – both winners of our Affordable Electric Car of the Year award, and they can go further on a charge, too. It’s also dangerously close in price to the base Hyundai Kona Electric, which also has a longer range and is simply more classy than the Soul.

Meanwhile, the Soul EV Explore must entice buyers away from its sharper-looking cousins, the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric, other electric crossovers like Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka Electric and Smart #1, plus base versions of much larger, much snazzier family SUVs such as the Nissan Ariya, Skoda Enyaq iV and Volkswagen ID.4

For an alternative review of the Kia Soul EV, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com...

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