The interior layout, fit and finish
The Soul is a good example of how designers can make a car easy to use. It shows the likes of the Nissan Leaf how things should be done, with a supportive driver’s seat that feels high enough, without leaving you feeling unnaturally perched. The seat isn’t heavily bolstered, but still holds you in place well enough around corners and is electrically adjustable as standard, including for height and lumbar adjustment. Unlike the Leaf, there’s a fully rake and reach-adjustable steering wheel with plenty of range – the Leaf’s is height-adjustable only.
The standard 7.0in digital instrument screen doesn’t offer any greater functionality over a set of regular analogue dials. Unlike those in the Volkswagen e-Golf, you cannot configure the screen to show a full-screen navigation map, for instance, but it’s easy to read, with clear graphics. A head-up display is standard, projecting your speed, sat nav instructions and other information onto a clear screen in your line of sight. It’s graphics are crisp and big enough to easily read on the move without taking your eyes off the road.
The rest of the dashboard’s buttons and controls are supremely logically laid out, and many of them – including the large rotary dials for the heater – are chunky enough to find with only a fleeting glance. The switches also feel nicely damped, which is a happy segue onto the topic of quality.
Inside, the Soul EV is certainly robust enough to stand some testing family use. And, in terms of visual appeal, it looks more exciting to be in than the Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona Electric, as well as being way plusher than rivals such as the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf. There are some hard plastics dotted around, so it’s not as deluxe inside as the Volkswagen e-Golf, but because the whole is spruced up by enough soft-finish surfaces in the places that you will be pawing regularly, you won’t be left feeling short changed.
Visibility is excellent out of the front, thanks to the relatively upright driving position and thin front pillars. The rear screen is a tad shallow, but it’s the heavily angled rear windows and thick rear pillars that do the most to restrict your over-the-shoulder view. Rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are both standard, as are LED headlights with an automatic main beam function.
Kia’s latest infotainment system is very good. It’s not quite as easy to use as the BMW i3’s iDrive system – which remains the best in the class – but it’s at least as good as the e-Golf’s system. The Soul EV’s sharply defined 10.3in touchscreen is mounted high for easy viewing, and its graphics are ace, especially the 3D sat-nav maps, which render cityscapes accurately. It’s also responsive and most of the menus are intuitive enough that you won’t need to break out the manual every time you use it.
It’s well kitted out, too. Sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will all be standard, as will online connectivity for up-to-date traffic and parking information, plus a Harman Kardon 10-speaker stereo with a subwoofer. Even wireless mobile phone charging is included. You can also download an app to your smartphone, to which the car will send data covering the battery’s charge status and the vehicle’s location; or you can send commands remotely to the car, including to prime the interior temperature or to send a route to the sat-nav, in readiness for your journey.