Following on from its quiet launch last month in the U.S., Kia’s all-electric Soul EV has gone on sale in the UK today priced at £29,995 including taxes but before UK government purchase incentives.
Rated by the optimistic New European Driving Cycle (NEDC)test as having a combined range of 131 miles per charge, the 2015 Kia Soul EV appears on paper to have the highest range of any all-electric non-Tesla model on the market in Europe today. But while the NEDC may suggest 131 miles per charge is possible, we’d err on the side of the far more realistic (and less optimistic) EPA rating for the 2015 Kia Soul EV of 93 miles combined.
That range increase over similar-priced competitors like the Nissan LEAF and Volkswagen e-Golf is thanks to a 27 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack which Kia says has a class-leading energy density of 200 watt-hours per kilogram. In addition, the Kia Soul EV features a specially-designed ‘zoned’ HVAC system which can be set to heat just the drivers’ seat rather than the whole of the car, saving power when required.
Charging can be done via the car’s on-board 6.6 kilowatt charger in around five hours, or via the standard CHAdeMO DC quick charging port at a compatible DCQC station. As with other CHAdeMO equipped cars, expect a 0-80 percent charge to take between 30 and 40 minutes depending on battery temperature and charger capabilities.
It’s worth noting too that the Kia Soul EV’s increased range is best observed in low-speed environments: due to a larger frontal area than many of its competitors, the Kia Soul EV is less energy efficient on high-speed motorways than many other plug-in cars of a similar price.
Interestingly, the UK market Kia Soul EV comes in just one trim level rather than the two offered as standard in the U.S., with grey ‘Eco cloth’ seats as standard alongside heated front seats, leather-trimmed gear selector and heated steering wheel.
Also included as standard on UK market cars is an eight-inch touchscreen with full navigation and remote telematics, reversing camera, keyless entry and ignition, projection headlights with LED daytime running lights, parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, HVAC heat pump, and electrically operated heated and folding rear view mirrors.
One feature which may interest buyers is an electronically-adjustable steering feedback which, like the Tesla Model S, allows owners to set a steering feedback level and effort appropriate to their personal tastes.
As with other modern car,s there’s a bevy of on-board entertainment, including DAB RDS radio with MP3 connectivity, steering wheel controls, auxiliary and USB connectivity and Bluetooth as standard. In keeping with other Kia models, there’s also a 7-year, 100,000 mile warranty covering all elements of the car apart from ‘consumables’ like tyres, brakes and other items subject to ‘normal wear and tear.’
With a 0-60 time of 10.8 seconds and a maximum top speed of 90 mph from its 81.4 kilowatt electric motor, the Kia Soul EV isn’t exactly the fastest plug-in car on sale in the UK. But with plenty of room for luggage and passengers, it could be a good choice for someone who doesn’t want an electric car that looks like an electric car.
The down side? Apart form the price — £24,995 after a £5,000 UK government incentive has been applied — Kia says it only expects to sell between 100 and 200 Soul EVs in the UK per year from a network of 13 “EV-approved” dealerships, two of which will be within London’s M25 orbital motorway. As with the U.S. then, where initial sales are limited to California and Oregon, the Kia Soul EV is most certainly a limited-market compliance car rather than a mainstream model.
What’s more, Kia still lists the Kia Soul EV in a separate section on its website, where it asks would-be owners to ‘register their interest’ rather than give specific information about car availability and which of its dealers across the UK will become official Kia Soul EV dealerships, making us wonder just how quickly and easily customers will be able to get their hands on a Soul EV for test drives.
Do you like the look of the Kia Soul EV? Are you tempted to buy one? Or are you worried about the prospect of limited availability and servicing?
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