One of our customers had a test drive in a Nissan Leaf and was very impressed with it. However, they had a daily commute at the comfortable limit of the Leaf’s range on a single charge, about 70 miles. I could see that that could be an issue in the winter months and so arranged a test drive of the Kia Soul EV as a comparison.
The Soul EV is an interesting design – clearly it is based on the fossil fuel Soul so does not have its own identity like a Leaf or a Renault ZOE. However, it is more than just an existing design with a new engine (like, arguably, the Volkswagen Golf and e-UP); it has a redesigned and strengthened floorplan (for the battery), new wing panels (since there’s no filler cap) and a modified nose (to house the charge port). So clearly Kia has invested considerable resources in getting the design right.
What is of particular interest is that Kia went straight for a market-leading big battery pack – a full 30.5 kWh (27 kWh usable) which compares very well with the Leaf’s 24 kWh (21.3 kWh usable). This means it has an official range on the NEDC test of 131 miles compared to the Leaf’s 124.
While that doesn’t seem to be a huge difference on paper, the feedback from many reviews of the Soul EV is that it consistently provides a longer real-world range than the Leaf (often above 100 miles). Furthermore, its range prediction readout is much more accurate and reliable.
Certainly that was my experience with it, driving it from London to Northampton and back over a couple of days. It gave a generous 90 or so miles predicted range, and then it seemed very nearly like it reduced the predicted range by about 1 mile for every mile driven. This is a very reassuring characteristic, arguably even better than the ZOE’s range prediction which is pretty good, and significantly better than the Leaf’s notorious ‘guessometer’.
The car itself is easy to drive – stable and comfortable, though perhaps not a very exciting or engaging drive. It has plenty of space inside and comfortable seats. It includes a large boot, though its space is compromised by a storage compartment underneath designed to hold the home charge cable and Type 1 charge cable.
Overall I was impressed with the Kia Soul EV and would recommend any potential EV owner to test drive one, particularly where longer than average range is important.