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A whole new world of motoring

14:19 14 April 2015

The Soul EV, a distinctive and enjoyable car which takes Kia’s offering onto another level

The Soul EV, a distinctive and enjoyable car which takes Kia’s offering onto another level

Archant

Andy Cooper settles in behind the wheel of a new electric car, pushes the button and glides off into a whole new world of motoring

I have a pot on my desk with my fuel receipts for the month neatly tucked away in there. Come expenses claim time the boys and girls in the accounts department need them from me for VAT purposes and woe betide me, therefore, if I don’t keep a record of amounts spent on fuel.

Such record-keeping not only makes sure I stay the right side of the rules ’n’ regs on expenses claims, it also means that once a month I get a quick snapshot on how much I have spent on fuel. And every month it dawns on me: I spend A LOT on fuel.

It might be the odd £20 quick fill here and there or a tankful, it soon mounts up. Living in this part of the world and needing to get hither and thither for work it’s an occupation hazard to be landed with a hefty fuel bill each month. And recent drops in the crude oil price have, of course, only filtered through on a small scale.

But we’re stuck, aren’t we? Drive a car, you buy fuel. There really is no serviceable option. Until now that is. Because there, lurking on all motorists’ radar, comes the future, AKA the electric car.

It promises much as a solution to our ills but, like all future technologies, we ask ourselves if it will deliver. There’s some nagging worries around performance, reliability and – that huge pachyderm in the pantry – accessibility of re-charging points and distance travelled between them.

So, what is the truth of the current situation? To assist, the team at Marsh Kia offered me the chance to test drive their entry into the electric market – the Soul EV.

With the Kia badge on the bodywork, you can forget any worries about reliability immediately. And Kia put their money where their mouth is by continue to offer the seven-year warranty which they are proud to give with any of their range.

I approached the vehicle with just a little bit more trepidation than is normal for a test drive. At first thought there were too many ‘unknowns’ to take on board. But are there? Save for the obvious – no fuel-driven engine under the bonnet and thus less noise when driving, this really is like driving your current vehicle.

I pulled away after a five-minute run through of the controls and within ten minutes was enjoyably zipping along, feeling rather pleased that on the emissions front this beauty is a zero play.

With a top speed of 90mph, it certainly lacks for nothing in the ‘oomph’ department and the pick-up was exactly the same as a petrol or diesel car. There is, or course, the need to keep an eye on battery levels, but the phalanx of instrumentation and indicators as to whether you are driving as efficiently as possible help with the management of this.

And with more and more folks inevitably turning to electric cars the number of bespoke charging points will surely follow? And, if all else fails, there’s a secondary cable tucked away in the boot which allows you to plug it into the mains at home.

Priced at £24,995 after the government’s £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant, it doesn’t take long to do a quick calculation of how good it will eventually be for your bank balance, especially as it’s also currently exempt from UK road tax and company car tax.

Oh, and in the ‘They Thought of Everything’ Department my worry over hapless passengers stepping out in front of my ‘silent’ car was assuaged by the fact the Soul EV is fitted with a Virtual Engine Sound System to alert pedestrians and cyclists whilst driving at a low speed.

Virtual sounds as standard then. And bells and whistles too from this corner after a truly memorable driving experience.

Marsh Kia Exeter, Hennock Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter, EX2 8NJ; Marsh Kia Taunton, Priorswood Road, Taunton, TA2 8DN. marshkia.co.uk

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