- Easy to navigate
- Quiet powertrain
- Great size
- Outstanding design
The Kia Soul was first launched in 2008 but a completely new second generation with larger proportions was shown in 2013 and went on sale the following year, with the first generation EV powertrain added shortly afterwards.
The third generation petrol or electric powered Kia Soul models appeared from 2019, but the pandemic affected their launch in Britain.
Now the push is on to ramp up registrations of the latest Kia Soul EV, and it comes as Kia Charge connection system for owners passes 30,000 power points including almost 1,000 rapid chargers over 100kW.
Powertrain and Performance
Starting and moving the Soul Urban is simply a matter of pressing a button and turning a rotary knob to go forwards or backwards, and that’s it. The transmission is automatic and the more you press the throttle, the more volts flow through and accelerate the car.
It’s a very smooth and mechanically quiet powertrain with selectable eco, normal or sport modes to maximise miles or performance as desired and there is a noticeable difference, including increasing retardation regeneration to top up the charge more.
Selecting which mode to use will immediately alter the display in front of the driver, essentially just speedometer and power meter to accentuate different aspects such as pulling power or economy, and they are of good size and fairly well-marked.
It is possible to “dial-in” single foot operation using the retardation feature, but even driven normally the footbrake is well up to the task and slows the car quickly and smoothly without drama. The steering, although weighted towards lightness, gave good feedback and the turning circle was good for town use without being twitchy on sweeping roads.
Today’s Soul EV is available with a choice of new 39.2kWh Urban battery as driven here for those who do not venture far on a regular basis, or the familiar 64kWh Explore battery, both charging up to 80 percent capacity or close to 140 miles range in around three-quarters of an hour.
A driver can very accurately place the Soul and turning or parking in town was no problem while open roads were covered with ease and as quickly or calmly as wanted, with good roadholding and responses to steering and brakes. The parking brake securely held it on a steep slope and slipped off as the car moved off.
The ride quality was generally very smooth over all manner of roads thanks to the independent suspension all round, but you were occasionally jarred by deeper potholes or raised tarmac and the drumming from the tyres was probably the most noticeable source of noise with no mechanical or wind intrusion.
Design and Practicality
Oddments room was good for a family car except it only had one seat back pocket in the rear for some reason, but there were bins in the doors, a front glovebox of useful size and cubby and trays on the central console.
The boot space had a very low lip, a flat wide floor and capacity could quickly expand by dropping the offset split rear seats, but in five-seat configuration it was not as large as some conventional hatchbacks.
Access was easy for users with wide opening doors, low sills, very good headspace and once inside, the legroom was generous for everyone but elbow room would be cramped for three in the back. Seat and column adjustment was wide for a driver.
Visibility was excellent all round with thin roof pillars, low glass waistline, very effective washers and wipers each end and at night the lights were reasonably bright as well.
The Soul EV now has the latest slim LED units front and back with eye-catching body colours.
Equipment and Technology
Inside, appealing to music lovers, there are new tweeter speakers, and 8.0 or 10.25-inch floating touchscreens for infotainment, navigation, smartphone integration for calls and music, system settings and a multimode display in front of the driver.
There are the latest driver assistance, safety, and convenience features together with intelligent cruise control, reversing camera and parking sensors.
Secondary controls on the stalks were well laid out and close to fingertips, additional buttons on the wheel spokes operated the convenience features, communications, and entertainment settings, so you did not have to constantly look at the touchscreen.
The screen was big, clear, and quick to change functions as selected, while the climate control was effective and easy to use.
The Kia Soul Urban makes no pretence about what it is; a well put together modern family car, ideal for weekday commuting and weekend shopping or sporting trips.
It comes with good standard safety features and the easy to navigate infotainment system provides a great experience.