The new electric Kia Soul tested on Irish roads
Pros: Long range, standard equipment, spacious cabin
Cons: Bouncy suspension, divisive styling, currently sold out
2020 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for the electric car market in Ireland with lots of new models coming on stream. Kia is vying for success in the electric car class with the introduction of two new models, the e-Niro and the e-Soul. We were highly impressed with the e-Niro when we drove it on Irish roads recently, but is the e-Soul equally impressive? With distinctive styling, over 450 kilometres of range and a competitive price tag, the e-Soul lines up against established models including the new long-range Nissan LEAF and Hyundai Kona Electric. We took the e-Soul on an 800-kilometre adventure across Ireland to see what it’s like to live with and how it stacks up against the best-selling cars in the class.
The e-Soul is available in four different colour combinations including this eye-catching clear white and inferno red paintscheme
While the e-Soul’s styling is rather divisive, it certainly stands out from the crowd, especially in this two-tone white and red colour scheme. The e-Soul is arguably the most distinctive electric family car on the market at present, and up front it has a slimline front grille with striking LED headlights and a charging flap on the front grille for easy access to charge points. Elsewhere, the e-Soul features large LED brake lights at the rear, roof rails and raised bumpers for an SUV-inspired look. As standard, it’s fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors and chrome door handles.
The e-Soul boasts 17-inch alloy wheels, rear LED lights and roof rails as standard
The e-Soul is spacious inside thanks to its boxy shape, and it can accommodate five adults comfortably. The cabin is well-constructed and it should stand up well to regular use, while there is lots of technology featured as standard. The driver’s area features a digital seven-inch display behind the steering wheel for important information such as range and regeneration, along with a wireless smartphone charger and a 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Music lovers will also appreciate the e-Soul’s standard Harmon Kardon sound system and interior mood lighting that flashes in perfect time with music. It’s easy to get comfortable in the driver’s seat with lots of steering wheel and seat adjustment available, while leg and head room is generally good throughout.
Interior highlights include a vibrant new 10-inch touch screen infotainment system with Android Auto or Apple Car Play and a wireless smartphone charger
The e-Soul offers 315 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place, which is somewhat less than the Kia e-Niro’s 451 litre boot. Drop the seats down and this increases to 1339 litres, which is ideal for carrying large items as the loading area is flat and it is easy to slide items in and out. There are plenty of areas to stow away items throughout the cabin, with sizeable door bins, two coffee cup holders, an area to leave your smartphone and charge it wirelessly and a choice of different USB charge points. There are two sets of ISOFIX mounts in the rear for car seats, while the Soul’s raised ride height makes it easy to access the rear seats for parents. Although the e-Soul scores lower in terms of practicality than the e-Niro, it is nonetheless a capable family car.
The long-range e-Soul offers up to 452 kilometres of range on a single charge and it is possible to select three levels of regenerative braking, using paddles behind the steering wheel
The e-Soul is offered with a 39.2kWh battery that has a range of 277 kilometres, or with a long-range 64kWh battery that offers up to 452 kilometres of range. It sends 204 horsepower to the front wheels via an electric motor, and accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 7.9 seconds, with an eventual top speed of 167km/h. It’s very easy to drive around town with a single speed transmission and paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the regenerative braking. There are various driving modes available including Eco, Normal and Sport, and we spent most of our time in Eco in the interest of preserving battery life. The e-Soul is well-suited to urban driving, and it’s equally competent at motorway speeds. Out on the road, it’s smooth, quiet and refined, though not very responsive in sharp turns due to the weight of the batteries. While it copes well with bumpy roads, it can feel unsettled at times.
There are several different driving modes including Eco+, which limits the top speed to 90km/h and preserves battery life
Charging and range:
The long-range e-Soul offers a range of 452 kilometres, which is on par with the Hyundai Kona Electric (449 kilometres), the 64kWh Kia e-Niro (455 kilometres) and the entry Tesla Model 3 (409 kilometres). We covered over 800 kilometres in the e-Soul across Ireland, on varied oads and using different driving settings and regenerative braking. We found the range to be very accurate, and achieving over 400 kilometres on a single charge is easy with a reserved driving style. The e-Soul is equipped with a combined normal and fast charging port that offers swift charging from 20 percent capacity to 80 percent capacity in 42 minutes with a fast charger (80kW and above). It is also possible to adjust the e-Soul’s charging settings remotely, or to enable a winter mode that warms up the battery in advance of driving for added efficiency. It also has a useful utility mode which allows you to use the battery without running the car, while the battery is also covered under Kia’s seven year warranty.
With a high-speed CCS charge point, it is possible to charge the e-Soul from 20 percent to 80 percent battery capacity in 42 minutes
Prices and features:
Prices for the Kia e-Soul start from €35,955 for the Long Range 64kWh battery model including the Government VRT rebate and SEAI grant, which undercuts the Hyundai Kona (€38,130) and long-range 62kWh Nissan Leaf (€40,500). The e-Soul is offered in two grades of specification (K2 or K3), and the entry K2 model is well equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system, a reversing camera, TomTom Navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a wireless smartphone charger, air conditioning and LED lights. The e-Soul also boasts lots of safety equipment with lane keeping assist, forward collision-avoidance, smart cruise control, parking distance warning and an electronic parking brake with auto hold. Prices for the range-topping K3 model start from €37,495, though the entry K2 arguably has everything you will need.
The e-Soul offers lots of room for rear seat passengers with plenty of leg room and head room
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The e-Soul is one of the most interesting new electric cars to go on sale in Ireland in recent times, not only for its funky styling and clever cabin techology, but also its competitive 452-kilometre range and entry price point. What’s more, it is well finished inside and out, surprisingly powerful and roomy enough for five passengers. That said, the e-Soul's styling won’t be to everyone’s taste and it isn’t as practical as the Kia e-Niro, while such is the demand for the new model, it has sold out for the 192-registration period. There’s little else to complain about however; after 800 kilometres of driving, we were impressed by the e-Soul’s all-round abilities. If you are considering making the switch to electric motoring, it’s one to shortlist.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Kia e-Soul K2 Long Range
Prices from: €35,955
Annual Motor Tax: €120
Motor: Electric with long-range 64kWh battery
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Body style: Crossover
Boot Space: 315 litres
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