‘Runaway winner’ Kia e-Soul ticks all the boxes

‘Runaway winner’ Kia e-Soul ticks all the boxes

This year’s Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year awards quickly turned into a victory parade for the Kia e-Soul. The funky, distinctive-looking e-Soul not only won the Compact Car of the Year and Green/Efficient Car of the Year categories but then cruised to victory as the overall 2020 Irish Car of the Year.

A landslide victory for Kia, then, and a small slice of history to boot as the e-Soul became the first ever fully electric car to win the Irish automotive world’s top prize. As the fuel debate continues, the electrifying e-Soul has shot to the head of the pack, showing everyone how it’s done.

But why did it win? What makes the e-Soul stand out?

In the first of our 2020 award round-up videos, we asked Car of the Year jury members Bob Flavin and Tony Conlon to talk us through the triple crown winning e-Soul – stand by for some seriously high praise!

“You can see just how far Kia have come [with the e-Soul],” says Tony Conlon. “They’re like the young lad kicking a ball around who goes on to play in the Premier League. Kia have got the best designers in the world, the best engineers in the world, and now you have a quality finish similar to the very best cars out there.

“The quality starts when you open and close the door, and it’s there all around including with the build of the car,” says Tony. “This car his funky, it’s exciting and it has got plenty of quality about it.”

Continuing the quality theme, Bob Flavin says the infotainment system offered by the e-Soul is the best there is. “Digital read-outs on both sides and you can slide from one display to another easily, but most conveniently you can also click for a map that shows you exactly how far you can go on your current charge, so the range anxiety just goes away.

“The e-Soul is fully electric but that shouldn’t put you off because it’s so easy to charge,” adds Bob. “It’s a quiet, comfortable, every day, environmentally-friendly five-door hatchback and a really deserving winner of the 2020 Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year award.”

Stand-out specification

A stand-out in every way, the e-Soul is without doubt one of the most noticeable cars on the road today, its SUV-inspired frame featuring large LED headlights and brake lights as well as an easy-to-access charging flap within the front grille. Kia itself describes the e-Soul’s style as “iconic” – a somewhat over-used adjective in car circles but one that sits easily on this particular model.

Inside the e-Soul, there is space galore; the cabin is roomy enough for five adults to fit comfortably and, as Bob and Tony have mentioned, there’s enough quality under the fingertips to give the impression of a premium brand at work. In addition to a large (10.25”) touchscreen, the lauded infotainment system also features Apple Car Play and Android Auto, while the Harmon Kardon sound system is very pleasing on the ear.

There’s all the safety tech you would expect, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring and a great head-up display. One of the nice tech touches is an app that allows you to check the car’s battery charge, pre-charge the car and control its heating system via smartphone – very clever.

On the road, the e-Soul is very much the strong, silent type, capable of zipping and nipping in and out of urban traffic but equally at home on the motorway – a pleasing combination. Steering is nimble and responsive and there are a number of driving modes available including Eco, Normal and Sport.

And so, to the battery. As Bob points out in the video, the much acclaimed e-Soul goes a long way towards dispelling the concept of ‘range anxiety’, not only through the crystal-clear display of current charge but the range offered in the first place. The long-range e-Soul provides a range of more than 450 kilometres – a very decent day’s driving – while easy and fast charging provides yet further reassurance to would-be electric customers. This may be the first fully electric car to win the coveted Car of the Year award, but it’s unlikely to be the last.

Fun to drive, very comfortable and oozing practicality, the Kia e-Soul is a trail-blazer in more ways than one. Stocks are limited due to its sheer popularity, and that may be the case for some time as curious consumers jostle to try out this most distinctive of cars.