Electric Kia Soul EV lands in the UK

Published: 12 November 2014

It’s been a fair while in gestation, but the Kia Soul EV goes on sale in the UK this week. An all-electric version of Kia’s boxy Soul crossover, it’s the first battery-electric Kia to be released globally and an initial foot in the EV market for the Korean firm.

It’s priced at £24,995 after the £5000 government plug-in car grant has been applied.

What’s powering the Kia Soul EV?

Under the bonnet is an 81 kilowatt motor (the equivalent of 109bhp) with 210lb ft of torque. Without the need for traditional radiator, the grille’s been blanked off to cut drag and house the charging cable socket.  The car’s front profile in general has been changed ever so slightly in fact, to counteract wind noise that’s otherwise drowned out by the engine in conventional Souls.

Kia claims a not-to-be-sniffed-at maximum driving range of 132 miles, achieved largely by cramming an enormous lithium-ion polymer battery pack into the Soul’s floor. Incorporating a heating and cooling system to keep the batteries at their best operating temperature, it weighs a hefty 274kg and the suspension has been beefed up accordingly.

Predictably there’s a slight impact on interior space, with rear legroom down by 80mm and boot space reduced by 31 litres (bearing in mind the Soul doesn’t have the biggest boot in the world as it is).

Kia states a top speed of 90mph and 0-60mph time of 10.8 seconds – although that might make a dint in the range. Like many EVs, a regenerative braking system harvests energy under deceleration and returns some of it to the batteries.

Anything different about the Kia Soul EV?

There are a few interesting touches. It’s one of the first electric vehicles to be fitted with a ‘Virtual Engine Sound System’, designed to comply with new regs to reduce the likelihood of bumping into unwitting pedestrians and cyclists. An artificial engine-like hum cuts in below 15mph, in both forward and reverse gears, at a frequency that can be heard by guide dogs.

The climate control system can be set to target the driver only, so energy isn’t wasted heating or cooling the entire car interior if there’s only one person on board. Either that or it’s an opportunity for drivers to really wind up their passengers.

Interior trim has a much lighter colour scheme than the standard Soul and gets more green brownie points by being made partially from bio-degradable materials. 

Are they going to sell many?

Kia expects to sell between 100 and 200 cars per year in the UK. By comparison they expect to shift more than 1000 in Norway and 300 in France.

It still has Kia’s trump-card seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty transferable to future owners and in an effort to sweeten the deal, Kia is throwing in a faster wallbox charger for free with the car.

Charging is said to take five hours through the wallbox or at a public fast-charge point, or 10 to 13 hours through a regular UK 230V power supply.

In the UK there’s one well-equipped trim level and a choice of two colours: metallic silver or blue with a white roof.

Any plans for more electric Kias?

We’re told there are no plans at present for EV versions of other Kia models, such as the Ceed for example. If another Kia EV does materialise in the near future, it’s more likely to be a new standalone model.

While Kia continues to concentrate on EV research, its partner company Hyundai is exploring fuel-cell drivetrains with the ultimate aim of pooling their resources down the line.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer