In the immediate wake of the pandemic and with the government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new ICE-only cars fast approaching, 2021 has the potential to be a defining year for several brands in thie UK, but few more so than Kia.
Despite being capable of outpacing the Porsche Taycan 4S in its most potent GT form and offering a Jaguar I-Pace-beating range of 316 miles, it’s priced from a mere £40,895 – just £3350 more than its far less sporty Soul EV sibling.
Maintaining a degree of polarity in Kia showrooms is instrumental to the brand’s enduring appeal to a wide variety of consumers.
Buyers coming in to view a basic Ceed are unlikely to be coaxed into the twice-as-expensive, top-rung Sorento parked beside it, but Philpott maintains that this diversity is inherent to Kia’s accessibility and reputation.
“We’re still a relatively new brand to the UK,” he says. “We’re 30 years old this year, whereas others have a 100-year history behind them. Awareness of Kia is still not as strong as it is of Ford or Mercedes-Benz, so we still have work to do.
“By being in more segments for more different customers allows us to increase awareness of Kia more quickly."
To illustrate his point, Philpott notes that his 80-year-old mother drives a Venga, while his 20-year-old niece drives a Picanto. “We’re not narrowing ourselves down into one segment,” he says. “We’re a volume brand for multiple different demographic segments.”
Kia’s current offering is one of the most varied among all mainstream manufacturers. Prices start at £11,000 for the Picanto (the third-cheapest car offered in the UK), rise to just over £25,000 for the Niro Hybrid and top out at £53,095 for the top-rung 4 version of the flagship Sorento PHEV.
By the end of next year, the EV6 GT will be offered from £58,295 – which, although significantly cheaper than the more overtly premium EVs to which it bears comparison, is a marked step up the pricing ladder for Kia.
Promisingly, all signs point to UK consumers being more than happy to consider range-topping Kias against their more established rivals. Some 50% of Sorento PHEVs, for example, are ordered in 4 trim, and it’s the same for the slightly cheaper Sorento Hybrid.