When I was handed the keys to the Kia Soul EV in November, I have to admit I thought it was the worst time of year to be running an electric car. Cold weather tends to adversely affect the amount of charge that you can hold in a battery, but with three months now under my belt, and spring on its way, it’s clear that I needn’t have worried.
My daily commute is an 18-mile round trip, so I shouldn’t really stress about range anxiety, but when you’ve got the heater on full blast, it does play on your mind. As a result, I tended to leave the heater off and keep my coat on, although the Soul EV has plenty of clever kit to keep you warm without having to drain the battery too much.
First up is the standard heated steering wheel. I frequently suffer from cold hands, and the wheel makes such a difference – much more so than the heated front seats. On other models, this extra usually comes with leather seat trim, but the Soul’s cloth seats don’t get that cold, even on frosty mornings.
However, it’s reassuring to know that switching on either the seats or wheel doesn’t have as big an impact on battery range as the heater itself. Using it cuts the distance you can go by around six miles, while there’s a driver-only option for the heater if you’re travelling alone.
Another neat feature is that you can set the heater to warm the cabin to a desired temperature 30 minutes prior to departure, as long as your car’s plugged in and charging. Of course, it’s not only the heater that affects the range, as the dark winter months ensure that the headlights are on most of the time, and the windscreen wipers are kept busy, too.
The downside is that range when LG64 MGU is fully charged now reads a disappointing 76 miles, almost half Kia’s claimed 132-mile maximum, and around 15 miles less than we were getting when we first collected the car.
But that’s with everything running, and lately I’ve started to drive in Brake mode, which boosts engine braking to recharge the batteries. It also blunts acceleration slightly, yet the Soul is still sprightly enough to sprint away from traffic lights without fuss.
As yet, range hasn’t increased, but I’m hoping that the spring weather and longer days will see it start to climb again. I’ve also had an intermittent problem with the EV warning light coming on. Sometimes it disappeared when the car was restarted, but when it stayed on over two days, I booked it into Beadles Kia in Coulsdon, Surrey, for a check-up.
However, a diagnostic check didn’t reveal anything. Due to the Soul EV being so new, the technician sent the information to Kia for further analysis, but as yet I haven’t heard anything and while the light has come on again, all seems well with the car.
Overall, the Kia has coped really well through winter. During the week, I wouldn’t swap it for anything, as it’s easy to drive, comfortable, packed with kit and eco-friendly. It’s pretty good for urban living at the weekend, too – it’s just when you want to venture further afield that you need to think twice.
Kia Soul EV: first report
Working for Auto Express and living in London means I’ve become familiar with a variety of electric cars over the years. So when Kia contacted us with the offer of running its new Soul EV on our fleet, I was the prime candidate to take custody of our new arrival.
This is the first electric car Kia has sold in the UK, but the company is being realistic about its sales targets. A price of £24,995 is pretty steep, and Kia expects to shift around 250 Soul EVs in the first year, while only 13 of its 170 dealers will sell it. One of those franchises is Beadles in Coulsdon, south London, and that’s where we went to pick up our new car.
All the staff were very friendly and helpful, and I was shown around the Soul EV by salesman Mark McKaig. He’s had special training to highlight the EV’s key selling points, and I was impressed with his knowledge.
There was plenty of kit to be shown, too, as the Soul is brimming with tech. Sat-nav, a six-speaker stereo, heated steering wheel and seats, front and rear parking sensors and climate control are all standard. In fact, there are no options at all as metallic paint is also included.
One particular highlight of the Soul EV is the sat-nav. It’s been programmed especially for the car, and if you plan a route that exceeds its range, it will suggest a charging point en route.
Of course, a lack of charging facilities is one reason why many are put off by electric cars, but Kia is hoping to address that, too, by offering to install a fast-charging point worth £250 at every buyer’s home. It’s something that will ease range anxiety, although our car’s 90-mile range on a full charge is short of Kia’s claimed maximum of 132 miles.
We’re putting that range limitation down to the cold weather, because overall, things are looking good for our new EV. The Soul is comfortable, easy to drive and pretty practical, so fits my needs perfectly as an urban cruiser.
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