Kia have confirmed that an electric motor version of their Soul Compact 4×4 will be coming to the UK soon. The Soul has split both professional and personal opinion since its release in 2009. What Car? called it “a poor car – poor to drive, drab to sit in and not cheap enough to own” whereas Car Buyer said the “Kia Soul is a very unique small hatchback with a big cabin, big personality and SUV looks.”
The contrasting opinions that this unique design conjure up wont be changing any time soon with the release of the 2014 model. The new model’s looks come from the 2012 Track’ster concept and are a complete redesign with 100% new exterior body panels and a new take on the car’s interior. If you look closely you can see the front air intake and fog lights are lifted straight from the Track’ster. The car looks beefier and more SUV like, whilst still retaining the Souls trademark compact size.
Benny Oeyen, Vice President of Marketing and Product Planning at Kia Motors Europe highlighted how the new Soul was about making advances whilst staying true to the car that many have grown to love. “It was important that the all-new model remained true to the original iconic design,” he said, “beyond design, our main focus was infusing it with improved driving dynamics, developing a higher-quality cabin and adding desirable features that improve the Soul’s appeal, value and sophistication.” Quirkiness is a theme that runs through more than just the Souls design. Take a look at the slightly surreal hamster themed advert for the 2014 Kia Soul below.
So what has changed with 2014 Kia Soul?
The aforementioned exterior change isn’t just stylistic. It utilises a brand new body shell taken straight from the latest Kia cee’d which is made up of 66% ultra-high strength and high strength steel. This results in a 29% increase in torsional rigidity which should help combat body roll (something that was noted in many reviews of the previous model).
The suspension and shock absorbers have also been significantly improved to combat another gripe that many had about the previous model, ride hardness and poor refinement. The interior has also been improved, with higher quality materials and better sound proofing used throughout its slightly larger space. Customisation will still be key to the Soul’s, well, soul with 11 exterior paint finishes and 3 different roof colours available.
So, when will the electric Kia Soul be released? You can expect to see the Soul EV arriving in the UK in about a year’s time, leaving an 8 month grace period between itself and the combustion-engined models. Yaser Shabsogh, Kia’s UK Commercial Director said: “We have the technology so we want it so we can demonstrate it. It gives us a real branding opportunity… We are still working on our strategy for the EV. We haven’t decided yet whether we are going to sell the battery or lease it.” And that could be a sticking point for many, of course if you were leasing the vehicle anyway this wouldn’t present an issue.
If the car does come as a complete package Shabsogh believes that it will likely cost at least £20,000, this is before the governments low emission vehicle grant of £5000. This brings it in at a significantly cheaper price than the BMW i3 and on a par with the cheapest model of the Nissan Leaf. Shabsogh has even gone as far as admitting that they are unlikely to sell more than a couple of hundred units and that most sales will be restricted to metropolitan areas. He also highlighted the fact that lack of servicing and charging infrastructure is still a hurdle the EV industry is yet to clear.
What do you think of the electric Soul? Will you be queuing up to get your hands on one in a year’s time?
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More 2014 Kia Soul images (click to enlarge):
Written by Ryan Hill