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Kia unveils Track’ster concept car at Chicago show

Aggressive design of high-performance concept suggests direction for next-generation Kia Soul

Published: February 29, 2012, 6:00 PM
Updated: April 28, 2018, 9:40 PM

2012 Kia Optima

If you’re one of the thousands who fell in love with Kia’s funky little Soul when it hit the market a couple years ago, the Soul-based Kia Track’ster concept, revealed this week at the Chicago auto show,is certain to enflame that passion.

The performance-oriented three-door Soul coupe concept is said to hint at what could be the future direction of Kia’s wildly successful Soul.

"The idea was to make the Track’ster tough looking, like a bulldog," said Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia Motors America. "But the car had to be approachable as well. We wanted to base the car in reality so people instantly knew it was a Soul, but with a lot of attitude. It had to be a bold interpretation that would change people’s conceptions of what a sporty Kia could be."

The Track’ster succeeds on all counts.

Key to its bold attitude, in addition to an aggressive stance, is an equally bold Whiteout and Inferno Orange paint scheme.

Prominent design features include Kia’s signature grille, with an air intake slit and a ground-skimming lower valance, both trimmed in carbon fibre, as well as swept-back headlights with deeply-recessed lenses that echo the trapezoid themes found throughout its design.

Prominent wheel wells are filled by custom HRE-K1 monoblock billet performance wheels that were a joint effort of Kia’s California design team and HRE. They’re shod with 245/40-19-inch front and 285/35-19-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires.

Big14-inch Brembo vented and cross-drilled disc brakes, with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers at the rear lurk behind the wheels.

The Track’ster rides on a wheelbase that is 29 mm longer than the Soul’s but with a width of 1918 mm it’s about 130 mm wider, and it looks it.

The concept’s sloping flat roof identifies it as a Soul but it is missing the production car’s rear doors.

With performance as the top priority, the Track’ster concept boasts 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine said to generates 250 horsepower, a 66% increase over that of the production Soul.

The Track’ster rides on a lowered sport suspension tuned for track performance.

Power is routed to all four wheels via an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system, via a short-throw six-speed manual transmission.

Granite Gray leather envelopes the interior, which features a large touch-screen panel located just above the engine Start/Stop push-button.

Behind the front seats,the rear seats have been removed and replaced with a fully-integrated equipment tray and spare-tire well. Big bins back there can stow racing gear such as helmets, suits, gloves and tools while emergency supplies are housed within a separate and highly visible container.

A custom rear strut brace incorporates a quick-release handle to allow for fast wheel changes.

Alas, there are no current plans to produce the Track’ster, at least in its current form. But it’s not inconceivable that many of its design elements may make it into production.

"Concept cars are icing on the cake," said Kearns. "They allow KMA’s design team to dream about what could be. Whether that dream becomes a reality or not is a separate question."