REVIEW: Kia e-Soul
It has recently been crowned the 2020 Irish Car of the Year and the award is well deserved. You have also read the last sentence correctly, the Kia e-Soul have won Irish car of the year. Not the Irish EV of the year, or even the compact car of the year (it actually won both of these awards too!), this is the first time that an EV has won the Irish car of the year and it is only the start of things to come from EVs.
Thanks to Kia Ireland, we were able to spend a week with this impressive car and please find our views below. A little bit of history first. This is the third generation of the Kia Soul and the second EV version as the 1st generation Soul came out in 2008 with the first Soul EV being released in 2014. The EV variant will be the only option available in Europe where other markets will still have the combustion engine options.
The design is not quite a marmite decision of either you love it or hate it but it’s not far off. It’s all about practicality and not for those seeking to have the sportiest looks at the traffic lights. I for one like it. It’s definitely distinctive and very spacious in the cabin. Its futuristic design is not too crazy. I love some of the colour options and the two-tone options are even more fun. A lot of comparison when in solid white or two tone white with a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet and we love this too. As it’s a bit on the boxy styling side, aero dynamics are not as good as the e-Niro but we’ll forgive it for that. Internally, it’s nicely laid out with even a choice of accent lighting colours in the door panels.
We really like the build quality. It can be a little plasticky but at the this price point it’s to be expected. Some of the dash is directly from the e-Niro and this parts sharing is one of the reason the price can be maintained at this level. For example, the central console has the same gear selection knob as the e-Niro. Pedals sitting in front of the steering wheel help you select the level of regen for braking where 3 levels are available.
Space in the cabin is good as mentioned already but the boot space is a little short in depth for our liking but this can be extended by dropping the rear seats. Boot space is 315 litres before the seats are dropped. You get a lot as standard with this car, for example heated seats, 17″ alloys and active cruise control.
Like a lot of 2019 EVs we have tested, a number of the features on the e-Soul are becoming the norm of us consumers. This is great for us but manufacturers are finding it harder and harder to have a unique tech selling point of their vehicle over others. The model we tested was well kitted out with a standard 10.5″ infotainment screen with includes sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Some other manufacturers will give you one or the other and I remember the day when they used to try and charge extra for the Apple or Android functionality! Thankfully, those days are numbered with Kia bringing the value to the market. There is a K3 version with some extras like a heads up display, blind spot monitoring and a Harman Kardon audio system but we feel you’ll be well served with the standard model.
Range and Battery
The Kia e-Soul uses the same propulsion system as its sister the Kia e-Niro. It comes in 2 battery sizes. The 64kWh has a claimed range of up to 452 km and when we sat into it last week on a cold wintery day, at 100% charge we were still showing 400+ range. Over the week, we did a good mix of short city driving around town, mid range driving of 100km each way trips and a long range drive across the country and range anxiety was no existent. We love this size of battery or bigger in any EV but Kia have some sort of magic wand to get as much milage out of their models as possible. The smaller battery is 39.2kWh and has a claimed range of 277 km and this will suit a certain type of driver and their needs.
No matter what size battery you select, they are both covered by the Kia’s 7 year warranty. Charging is via CCS and charging times can be as fast as 20% to 80% battery in around 40 mins when fast charging at 80 kW or above. FYI, this battery also has a reduced cobalt mix. 0-100kms is 7.9s and power is 204PS.
We really like this car. The value for money, the battery range and standard of quality you get for well under €40,000 is hard to beat (starting price is now from €37,495 which includes VRT reduction and SEAI grant). We can see why it has been voted the 2020 Irish car of the year.
At a recent EV meet up in Dublin, we heard from a number of EV owners who have ordered a 2020 plate because they feel it’s the best value for money in the EV market at present and it’s hard to argue with them. We look forward to seeing more of them on the road if only to shake up the monotonous cookie cutter designs other manufactures have stayed safe with.