When it goes on sale in the UK at the end of the year, the new Soul will be offered in a single guise, featuring an 'SUV pack' that adds a few styling tweaks, including a skidplate and some 'rugged’ trim panels.
The question is whether a smidgen more space and a whole heap of extra practicality, thanks to a greatly improved drivetrain, will help the British public find a place in their hearts for a bit of Soul.
How does design define the Soul EV?
Kia describes the Soul’s look as 'iconic', which decidedly stretches the definition of an already much-misused word. Still, the new model undoubtedly has character and a certain charm, with the front end shaped by the narrow lights and trapezoidal grille. The rear now features an LED light strip that wraps almost all the way around the rear screen. It’s certainly distinctive, and a bold attempt to inject some design vibrancy, although this tester isn't entirely convinced by its effectiveness.
The Soul’s boxy shape is harder to mask from the side, where it’s also easy to spot the size increase over the old model. At 4195mm, it’s 55mm longer, with its 2600mm wheelbase 30mm larger. It’s also 1605mm high and 1800mm wide.
A more relevant comparison is with the e-Niro, which is 180mm longer and 5mm wider but 130mm lower. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is at the back: the e-Niro has a 451-litre boot, while the Soul’s is just 315 litres. It does feature a clever twin-level design with a floor under which the charging cables are neatly stashed, though, and its narrow, deep design at least makes much of that space usable.
But while the e-Niro scores on practicality, the interior of the Soul shines brighter. It features the newest version of Kia’s infotainment system, with a bright 10.3in central touchscreen. There’s also plenty of safety tech, including a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and blindspot monitoring. The new infotainment also syncs with a new Kia app that enables owners to check their Soul's battery charge on their smartphone, pre-charge it and control its heating system remotely.
With its high roof, the Soul also feels airy and spacious, although the high-riding, upright style makes it very clear that this is never going to be a hot hatch to drive. Not that the Soul doesn’t have decent performance; the 64kWh model (the sole version to be offered in the UK at launch, while a 39.2kWh model will be sold elsewhere) has virtually identical performance to the e-Niro, with 201bhp, 291lb ft of torque, a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec and a top speed of 103mph.
How does the Soul EV perform on the road?
The Soul makes good use of its power, with direct and responsive steering that allows you to zip in and out of traffic in urban situations, while also offering strong response when you get onto Germany's more flowing rural roads. On the autobahn, it remains comfortable to drive even approaching its top speed, although the wind noise does become somewhat noticeable.
The Soul’s suspension, aided by dynamic dampers, does a good job of masking its 1682kg kerb weight, and it rides both bumpy city streets and flowing lanes with decent pliancy and balance.
As with the e-Niro, the strongest point of the Soul's powertrain is how adjustable it is, with four different driving modes (ranging from Eco+ to Sport) and the ability to customise the amount of regenerative charging the car undertakes while braking.