Publication date: 14 April 2019
Kia e-Soul

Kia e-Soul


Review - Kia offers SUVs in many shapes and sizes. The Soul is the smallest of those Sports Utility Vehicles and is meant for use in and around town. To make it clear that the Soul is not an invincible off-road vehicle, Kia opted for a playful design. And to further tailor the Soul to urban use, the third generation is only available as an electric car. A happy choice?

The second generation of the Kia Soul was optionally available with a petrol engine or electric drive. That way, Kia could learn what customers' preferences were. In the process, the Korean manufacturer learned how customers used their electric cars. This third generation should now put that knowledge into practice.

Kia e-Soul

Electric car

The main lesson learned by Kia: customers who use their car mainly in the city are dissatisfied with consumption. They only look at average consumption in the brochure and not city consumption. While that is the customer's fault, a combustion engine is not a logical choice for travelling short distances anyway. Petrol and diesel engines lend themselves best to long distances (over 100 km) at high speed. An electric car is ideally suited for short distances at varying speeds. In addition, an electric car is cheaper per kilometre, cleaner, faster and more comfortable. In short, the only logical choice was to offer the third generation of the Soul only as an electric car: the e-Soul.

At the same time, Kia knows that even a city car is occasionally used for long distances. In doing so, it is not desirable to have to recharge every day. That is why the e-Soul is available in two variants. The first has a battery with a capacity of 39 kWh, capable of covering 276 km (WLTP standard). The second version has a 64 kWh battery and can cover 452 km according to the WLTP standard.

Kia e-Soul

Kia has not skimped on the battery technology: it is actively cooled or heated. This extends lifespan, improves performance and enables faster charging. The Soul can fast-charge at 100 kW (20 to 80% in 42 minutes) and charges at 7.2 kWh from a public charging point (0 to 100% in 6 hours for the 39 kWh battery, 10 hours for the 64 kWh battery). Kia chooses the most common type of connection for charging: CCS.

The two variants of the e-Soul differ not only in battery capacity; the 39 kWh version has a 136 hp engine, while the 64 kWh version delivers 204 hp. Torque in both cases is a generous 395 Nm; a value that even very powerful petrol engines can barely match!

Space and equipment

So much for theory, now for practice. Not only does the e-Soul look special from the outside, the interior also exudes fun. Oval panels "embrace" groups of buttons. This looks playful and makes it quickly clear where which functions can be found. Very special are the oval panels at both ends of the dashboard that continue into the doors. Moreover: in the dark, light effects can appear on these that dance along to the music (can be switched off). And that sets the tone: this is a car that wants to make every drive fun!

Kia e-Soul
Kia e-Soul

At the same time, functionality has not been forgotten. When getting in, one notices that the Soul has a high seat and therefore offers excellent visibility over traffic. Space in the front and rear is fine. Four large adults sit well in the e-Soul. As batteries are built into the floor, they do not take up any interior space. Still, the standard boot space is moderate compared to other SUVs of this size (315 litres). When the rear seats are folded, this increases to 1,339 litres, which is the largest boot space in the segment by far. Funny detail: the engine is so small and lies so deep under the bonnet that Kia could have made a second boot there.

The equipment is modern and complete, with Kia choosing not to hide its special technology. The e-Soul provides plenty of information on energy consumption, energy recovery and the charging process. Naturally, a complete infotainment system is available with audio, communication and navigation functions. Apple Carplay and Android auto are supported. And for smartphone use in the car, 3 USB connections are available (2 in the front, 1 in the rear), as well as a tray for wireless phone charging. The sound of the audio system is completely in line with the rest of the car: extravagant.

Driving characteristics

The e-Soul has a very different weight distribution than a similar car with a petrol or diesel engine. The e-Soul is much heavier, but that weight is concentrated in the ideal place: centrally and at the bottom. The higher weight requires a very different tuning of the suspension, while the low and central centre of gravity makes the e-Soul inherently more stable than a combustion engine car. In practice, this translates into a relatively firm suspension, which nevertheless offers sufficient comfort on bad road surfaces. The steering is almost numb, while at the same time it is noticeable that roadholding is excellent.

Much more importantly, the e-Soul has a good clear bodywork and a short turning circle. That's why this compact SUV feels right at home in the city. Manoeuvring is easy and changing lanes in heavy traffic is also easy. For extra security, the e-Soul offers the necessary semi-self-driving features, always gently steering the driver in the right direction (but always keeping full control).

Kia e-Soul

Performance and consumption

At the time of writing, only the e-Soul with 64 kWh battery and 204 hp engine is available. With that, this compact SUV performs with an ease that even the most expensive petrol engine cannot match. When the accelerator is gently tapped, the e-Soul moves as if it were a posh limousine. Press the pedal deeper and the e-Soul is eager, aggressive and defiantly fast. This doesn't just apply to the sprint from standstill, even at high speed there is always more than enough power available to accelerate further. To reduce consumption, top speed is limited to 167 km/h. Up to 110 km/h, driving noise is nil, above that speed the tyres and wind make themselves clearly heard.

As mentioned earlier, the 64 kWh strong e-Soul has a range of 452 km according to the WLTP standard. It should be noted that Kia carried out this measurement with a car on "Nexen" tyres and the car was equipped with the optional heat exchanger (extra efficient heating). For this test drive, the same car was made available and thus the promised range was easily achieved. Despite the fact that the test driver was tempted more than once by the eager powertrain, over 450 km could be covered on a full battery.

Kia e-Soul


In addition to the e-Soul, Kia also offers the e-Niro. Both cars are SUVs and both use exactly the same powertrain and battery technology under the skin. It seems more logical to offer an electric car of a completely different type alongside an SUV. But precisely because both models have the same type of bodywork, it was easy to apply the same technology twice.

Moreover, the driving experience between the e-Soul and e-Niro differs enough to justify the two electric SUVs side by side. The e-Niro is a good size bigger than the e-Soul and this translates into more quietness and a grander feel. Moreover, in sport mode, the e-Niro responds much more violently to the power pedal than the e-Soul. The e-Soul is noticeably more agile than the e-Niro. Despite its modern technology, the e-Niro is a very ordinary SUV that hardly stands out in traffic. With its futuristic looks and bold interior, the e-Soul is a real fun car.

Kia e-Soul


Kia introduces the third generation of the Soul. Even more than before, this compact SUV is tuned for use in and around town. Because the Soul is not a tough off-roader, its looks are all about fun. At the same time, the Soul is even above-average spacious and practical. The equipment is modern and complete, with plenty of attention to (active) safety.

With urban use in mind, the Soul is now an electric car. In practice, this offers only advantages. The e-Soul is fast, comfortable, agile and spotlessly cheap per kilometre in use. In the process, it has zero emissions, which is a big advantage, especially in the city. Was it a happy choice to offer the third generation only as an electric car? This test shows: yes, a very happy choice indeed!

  • Bold design
  • Large, usable range
  • Fast, comfortable and efficient
  • Inconvenient location charging socket
  • Driving noise increases sharply above 100 km/h