My Kia Soul EV — One Month On
December 31st, 2017 Jose Pontes
I’ve had the Soul EV for approximately one month, driven it for 3,000 km
(1,900 miles), and … have been lovin’ it!
Despite some minor annoyances and one scare (more on this later), we have
already adopted it as part of our family, and right now it’s as if it had
been with us for years.
On one of my early concerns, public charging, I haven’t had major issues,
thanks to Electromaps. I am always updated about the state of chargers, and
when arriving at the chargers, I’ve been fortunate to find mostly vacant
plugs — the exception being in downtown Lisbon, where chargers are
frequently not available, with regular plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) users
charging or, in the case of fast chargers, being Uberized (real word) by the
drivers of a certain company…
Due to the high occupation of downtown chargers, there was one time I wanted
to charge there and I thought:
“Well, they have plenty of chargers in the Expo area. I will just go there
Thing is … all the chargers were full — every one of the 10 charging
stations there had two cars plugging in, and half of them were PHEVs.
“F****** PHEVs. Screwing the charging scene.” — I mumbled, irritated.
“Well, at least they are using their plug-in hybrids the right way. They are
maximizing electric range by charging.” — a soft spoken angelic voice
whispered in my mind.
“Screw that! I want to charge!!!” — said, angrily, another voice inside my
Because the battery was getting low, I decided to charge at the local IKEA
store, some 7 km away, instead of trying to find an available charger in the
Despite this scare, the Soul EV has been a great car to drive around.
Although the car doesn’t like to be thrashed around like the Honda did, it
still feels at home in urban traffic, doing the stop-and-go traffic with
amazing ease. While its range left me cold on the highway (brick-like
aerodynamics play a role here…), in dense traffic, it felt it could go on
forever, surpassing my wildest expectations.
Regarding the drive itself, the Soul EV has two modes — “D” (this has a
similar driving experience to a ICE car with auto box) and “B” (which has
strong regenerative braking, allowing one-pedal driving most of the time).
Guess which is used 90% of the time…
“B” and one-pedal driving not only make the driving more fun, but they also
make it more efficient and save the brakes.
Also, because I am all for efficient driving, I keep the “Eco” mode on most
of the time, the exception being high-speed driving.
Also, with the dashboard consumption graph, you end up learning to drive
more efficiently, like anticipating slowdowns and lifting the accelerator
gradually in order to charge the battery, instead of braking at the last
second. Accelerating progressively to meet a certain speed also helps
efficiency and makes the driving a more Zen-like experience.
These cares, added to the sparse use of A/C, compensated with the regular
use of the heated seats and steering wheel, has allowed some 230 km (144
mile) range performances, better than the EPA result but still worse than
NEDC (then again, I don’t have pink unicorns helping me).
Something that surprised me is the range/guess-o-meter being somewhat
conservative. If it says 200 km of range, in truth, it can a bit more, like
210 or 220 km — which is always good news, especially if for some reason you
must detour or search an alternative charger.
What about range anxiety? Never felt it, thanks to these three words:
“Planning, planning, planning.”
For example, on the longest trip we have done, visiting the Schist Historic
Villages, where we did some 400 km in one day, I made a Plan A (fast
charging in Coimbra when arriving from Lisbon, then repeat the operation
when returning home), then an alternative Plan B (fast charge in Pombal),
and a Plan C (with regular charging), just in case all fast chargers were
Plans B and C weren’t needed on the road trip, but nevertheless, it was
comforting to know they existed, especially considering the unfriendly
conditions (1,200m mountains and 0ºC temperatures) we found.
But the Soul EV is not perfect, after the excitement of the first days
waned, we found some minor annoyances:
- The driver seat belt tends to be stuck.
- The rearview camera tends to get dirty in the rain.
- Radio selection is not as easy as in a BMW i3, which has dedicated
- No CD reader (well, I guess this is common in recent cars, but it’s
still an annoyance).
- Because it uses CHAdeMO, which is the most popular fast-charging
protocol in Portugal, the fast-charging cables tend to be more degraded than
the CCS ones.
- While roomy inside, the trunk could be a bit larger. In daily life, it’s
okay, but for larger stuff, it isn’t as big as we were used to in the
previous Honda Jazz/Fit. (On the other hand, folding the rear seats, you
have a cavernous, van-like space.)
- It could have better driving dynamics in spirited driving. (But then it
wouldn’t be so comfortable in regular driving, would it?)
- Highway range — could be only 150 km (95 miles) if you really push it.
Despite these minor personality traits, there is plenty to like about the
Kia Soul EV:
- Cabin space and nice, functional interior.
- Cables have a dedicated space, at the bottom of the trunk, while the
charging port is on the front of the car.
- Great comfort, supple ride.
- Conservative guess-o-meter makes you feel safe regarding range.
- Great range in urban environment (over 230 km / 144 miles).
- Unusual shape and colors make it a cool-looking car, grabbing people’s
attention … which can be a downside if you are a shy person. (Well, there’s
always the e-Golf.)
Long story short, this is a surprisingly comfortable city car, with plenty
of utility, for people who run around in urban areas and take the occasional
long trip. For people who have these qualities high on their priorities
list, I totally recommend it, as it is a great value-for-money proposition.
It offers the right mix of range, utility, and user comfort.
On the other hand, if you do a lot of highway driving or expect your car to
be a hot hatch, then I would advise you have a look elsewhere.
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