Meet the third-generation Kia Soul – now available only as a 100% electric vehicle. With its boxy looks, the outgoing model was something of a Marmite car. The all-new 2020 version's lines have been softened and it's a much cooler proposition. Powered by a big 64kWh battery pack, it's the usual smooth, whisper-quiet electric car experience, spiced up with instant oomph and a 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds (but feeling faster). Most importantly of all, it boasts a genuine 280-mile range. An 80% charge takes 54 minutes from a 100kw charger. However, owners lucky enough to have a 7.2kW home wallbox charger will complete a full top-up overnight in nine hours and 35 minutes - that's around £9 (depending on electricity supplier and tariff fluctuations). This is cheap motoring, because you also save money on road tax (free) and maintenance (EVs have just three main components and far fewer moving parts than a combustion engine-car, so far less can go wrong). If you live in London, it's also exempt from the Congestion Charge, thanks to its zero emissions.
Meet the third-generation Kia Soul
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It's hard to categorise the Soul EV's chunky design because it has elements of a hatchback, people carrier and SUV. One thing's for sure – it's practical and there's bags of head and legroom in the front and back. And while the boot isn't the biggest (315 litres), with the rear seats flipped down the load space expands to 1,339 litres.
The Kia Soul boasts plenty of leg room
There are four driving modes - Eco, Eco+, Normal and Sport. The latter is fun, but it will drain your battery, while the Eco modes are heavy on regenerative braking, which recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration. If you want an electric car with a dynamic driving experience and the same range, you'll have to buy something like a Jaguar I-Pace or Porsche Taycan for two or three times the price. For most, the Soul EV will do just fine.
The ride is on the firm side, but perfectly acceptable, while the grip is good for a front-wheel drive car. The key to the Soul is that it's easy to drive, comfortable, spacious, generously equipped and well built.
The all-new 2020 model is 100% electric
Inside, it has an attractive, functional look and feel, featuring a large 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) as standard, along with leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, LED lights all-round, a head-up display, a reversing camera, wireless phone charging and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
It also has a major trump card in the shape of Kia's excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty), plus a suite of safety and driver assistance aids including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane keeping assist, blind spot detection with rear-cross traffic alert and driver attention warning.
HELLO!'s verdict: Spacious, safe, well-equipped, practical and easy to drive, the distinctive all-new Kia Soul EV is kind to the planet and your pocket. Price: from £34,295 (including the £3,000 government Plug-In Car Grant)
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