What are you driving?
This is the Kia e-Soul. That little 'e' ahead of the name is a tad superfluous, as Kia doesn't offer petrol or diesel power for this third-generation Soul in Europe, but it does at least hammer home the point that this is the Korean company's second all-electric crossover on the market. The e-Soul tiptoes around the same pricing as its sibling, the Kia e-Niro, though the former is only available with the 64kWh 'long range' battery pack, where as the e-Niro can be had for a lower starting price and a shorter range. Like-for-like, the e-Soul is the cheaper option. Prices (including the VRT rebate and SEAI grant) start at €35,995 for the e-Soul K2 and rise to €37,495 for the K3 variant pictured here. It's a well-equipped car in either case, with both cars getting 17-inch alloys, roof rails, heated and electric folding door mirrors, electric windows all-round with tinted glass in the back, auto lights with LED tech all-round, a heated steering wheel, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with rear view camera, Harmon Kardon speakers, USB port, Bluetooth, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), keyless entry and start, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, climate control, auto wipers and a lot more. The K3's most obvious additions include front parking sensors, audio controls on the steering wheel, leather upholstery and a head-up display.
Name its best bits
There's a lot to like here. I'd go so far as to say that the e-Soul is my favourite of the three Korean electric crossovers available at the time of writing (the others being the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric). While I accept that not everyone will get on with the e-Soul's distinctive appearance, I like how unique it is - and you don't have to have it in red and white if that puts you off.
Arguably, the interior is even more successful. It has a few distinguishing features (such as the speaker and vent design and the digital instruments) that make it interesting, but there's nothing gimmicky or weird about it. Crucially, it's very easy to use and feels of high quality, too. There's also decent room inside given the overall car's footprint.
The interior refinement is enhanced no end by the electric powertrain, which is, of course, very quiet. It's no slouch though, as evidenced by its 7.9-second 0-100km/h time. Select the Sport driving mode and it feels faster again with instant response to the accelerator at all times.
Just as importantly, the official 452km range seems to be nearly obtainable unless you're at 120km/h on the motorway all day, so most people could easily commute on a daily basis in this car. I also like how you can alter the level of brake energy regeneration to your preference - over three levels - by simply tugging on the paddles behind the steering wheel.
All that we've come to expect from a modern electric car, but it's worth remembering that the e-Soul is much cheaper than most cars that have offered all of this.
Anything that bugs you?
The Kia e-Niro is clearly a larger car inside than the e-Soul, with better space for passengers in the back and a tangibly bigger boot. If those things matter more than interesting looks, then you might be better off going for that over the e-Soul. Saying that, I managed to carry four others without any complaint in the latte and there's plenty of headroom in particular.
Use that Sport mode all the time and you'll soon discover that the e-Soul's chassis isn't quite up to the task, as the front tyres give up traction easily when the electric motor's considerable torque hits. Neither does the e-Soul corner in a way that could be called interesting or memorable - and it feels heavy under braking.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Kia e-Soul may not be exciting to drive, but it's one of my favourite semi-affordable electric cars on the market right now, with eye-catching looks, a cool interior, great level of standard specification and, of course, a very good electrical powertrain with a useful range between charges. Now if we could only get the pricing down...
What do the rest of the team think?
I really like the Kia e-Soul. I like the way it looks (like a First Order stormtrooper's helmet from Star Wars), I like its comfy interior and its relatively reasonable price tag. Most of all I like that I've been driving it around for three days now and still haven't had to charge up. Range is everything, now.
Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-large