Driving the Kia Soul electric car for a week

A fair review of the Kia Soul EV from a ‘petrol sniffer‘…

Day one: The Soul EV arrives at my office full, but not completely chock full, of electricity. It’s a pure electric car with no range extender back up and I’ve got a big journey tomorrow so I plug it in. The charging socket is in the middle on the front, rather than where the fuel hole would be on the side. In fact, the normal filler flap has completely disappeared which means they’ve altered the rear wing pressing for this one model, which in turn means they’ve spent some money on it. Putting the electro-umbilical point in the middle makes sense, especially if you’re neurotic about cable stretch.

Later I’m driving home without the stereo on, enjoying the smooth silence of electricalicityness when my brother rings me and his call connects through the Bluetooth. It’s only then I notice the light-up rings around the door speakers pulsing every time he speaks. I’ve seen this on a diesel powered Soul. They do it in time to whatever you’re listening to on the stereo. In a normal Soul, it’s a bit idiotic. In this electric one, it’s idiotic and a waste of precious electricity. Fortunately, you can turn it off.

Day two: The Soul EV has a claimed range of 132 miles. But even after a full charge last night the most it would show was 92. It’s a bit parky. Maybe that’s why. The problem is, today I’ve got to drive to somewhere that’s about 60 miles away. This might sound fine, but experience tells me that the range-o-meter on an electric car can be cheerily optimistic right up until the point you attempt to keep up with normal traffic or go onto a motorway. Then it plummets to the point where you it becomes clear you’re not going to make it and you will run out somewhere in the countryside and be unable to get help and have to live out your days in a forest. So this could go horribly wrong. Except, it doesn’t. The Soul turns out to have the most accurate range predictor I’ve ever seen. As long as you don’t ineptly mash the throttle like Maldonado on a pit entry, it seems to tell the truth. A mile goes by, it clicks off another mile. Sometimes it doesn’t even do that. I make it to where I’m going without range stress and buttockular clenching then plug it in, knowing I’ll get home again just fine. Which is an pleasant surprise.

Goodbye: The Soul EV is going away again. It feels like a very thoroughly developed electric car, usual long distance and charging limitations notwithstanding. It’s not as strenuously normal as the VW e-Golf and not as self-consciously wacky as the Nissan Leaf. It also seems much better at predicting its own range than either. If you’ve got 25 grand to blow on a school run-ish sort of car that lives in town it could be quite handy. I liked it.

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