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First Drive

First Drive: Kia Soul

The story:
The second of Kia’s current all-electric offerings provides eye-catching style and an official range figure that only far more expensive EVs from the likes of Tesla and Jaguar can beat.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Nissan Leaf
Kia Soul EV First Edition 64kw auto
Price:£37,240
MPG:Range: 280 miles
Emissions:0g/km
On sale:April 2020

They say timing is everything, and if you’re one of those folk who’s been tempted by an electric car but have been waiting for the right time to make the switch, then the moment could very soon be upon you.

Thanks to the changes in company car tax regulations due in April, purely electric vehicles will command bills of precisely zero. That’s zero. The year after, you’ll pay virtually nothing as the car moves to the 1% BiK band, and just two percent the year after that. Compared with a conventionally powered car, that will save you thousands in tax alone.

First Drive-March 2020-Kia Soul EV-Image 3As a result, Kia looks to have got its timing spot-on with the release of the stylish new Soul EV. It uses exactly the same 204hp electric drivetrain as the firm’s other all-electric offering, the excellent eNiro, so you get the same urgent acceleration and impressive on-road refinement. The Soul’s 280-mile range doesn’t quite match its stablemate’s, but it’s only two miles behind and has the beating of many other electric cars, especially ones at the more affordable end of the electric vehicle market.

We’d say the Soul has the beating of most of its rivals on style, too. To our eye, the design is edgy, unconventional and eye-catching, and the tall, boxy dimensions also mean it has a hugely impressive amount of passenger space, especially in the back. However, the 315-litre boot is rather small compared with those of most rivals.

In truth, the Soul isn’t as good to drive as some of its rivals, either, primarily because the ride has a slightly lumpy, jittery nature on most surfaces. That said, it should still be comfortable enough for most drivers, and it manages to change direction reasonably sharply.

First Drive-March 2020-Kia Soul EV-Image 1The interior impresses much more, though. The materials look solid and smart,and there are enough glossy trims and sparkly bits to inject a classy feel. The cabin comes absolutely rammed with equipment, too, because the Soul EV is available only (to begin with, at least) in highly specified ‘First Edition’ format. Standard kit includes leather upholstery, automatic lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a huge suite of clever safety kit and a touchscreen infotainment system that brings together navigation, wireless phone charging, a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

All this kit also helps make the Soul EV’s £37,240 price look less excessive compared with that of the cheaper (but much smaller) Renault Zoe, and it also makes the car look like decent value next to the most comparable version of the Nissan Leaf, which is more expensive.

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The verdict

A stylish electric family car with a long range, impressive performance and lots of kit, all for a fairly competitive price.