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Kia presents the bulldog-like 4WD Track'ster concept

By

February 9, 2012

Kia's Track'ster concept is a sporty, powerful reinterpretation of the Kia Soul, with raci...

Kia's Track'ster concept is a sporty, powerful reinterpretation of the Kia Soul, with racing aspirations

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The Chicago Auto Show got underway on Wednesday, and Kia had one of the noteworthy debuts of day one. The company's Track'ster concept is essentially a race-inspired hot hatch version of its popular Soul. The car gets a potent powertrain and aggressive look. Kia is clearly empowered by its recent success. Once essentially the baby brother of Hyundai, a brand that itself has a historical reputation as a cheap, entry-level automaker, Kia is really starting to come into its own. According to the company's numbers, it launched more new models in the US between 2009 and 2010 than any other automaker and was one of the world's fastest growing auto brands.

That rapid success has given Kia the confidence to experiment with new, higher-end models. At last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, it introduced the 390-hp GT sports car concept, and has now followed suit with the Track'ster. Kia says that it has no plans to commercially launch the Track'ster, but the model hints at possible future directions for the Soul.

"The idea was to make the Track'ster tough looking, like a bulldog," said Tom Kearns, Kia Motor America's chief designer. "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 drops the two rear doors in favor of a two-door layout

The Track'ster definitely appears more aggressive and 'bulldogish' than the Soul that inspired it. It has a more muscular profile, and its front fascia is defined by new elements like big, round driving lights, a lower intake grill, and carbon fiber accents. The concept sits on 19-inch custom-built HRE-K1 monoblock billet performance wheels rolled in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires.

Though it gains about an inch in overall length, the Track'ster drops the Soul's two rear doors in favor of larger front doors. When you pop one of those doors open, you realize that the car is every bit as track-ready inside. It has a pair of suede race seats and a suede-wrapped sport steering wheel. Kia pulled the rear seats out to make room for a race-day tool tray and spare tire well. The rear area also has several bins designed to hold gear like a helmet, gloves and emergency supplies.

Kia picked the Whiteout and Inferno Orange paint scheme to accentuate the car's aggressive, race-inspired look. Kia says that the bright orange that's seen on the roof, rear-view mirrors, hatch and other areas was picked out because it's perfectly suited to racing. The white was selected as a sort of blank canvas that helps to bring out the Track'ster's sculpted curves and lines.

This bulldog definitely has the bark to match the bite. Kia upped the power of the Track'ster by 66 percent over the Soul. The concept uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to deliver up to 250 horses (253 PS). It's equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and six-speed manual transmission.

Maybe if the reaction in Chicago and future shows is strong, we'll see some version of the Track'ster in production. But so far, it looks like Kia just wants to show the Track'ster off as a concept.

Source: Kia Motors America

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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11 Comments

this new Kia has a definite resemblance to the Juke concept

robinyatesuk2003
9th February, 2012 @ 01:30 am PST

I just love that color scheme. This is one pocket rocket I will buy...

Theron Sealey
9th February, 2012 @ 03:29 am PST

It reminds me a bit of the R5 Turbo 2s back in the day.

Alan Belardinelli
9th February, 2012 @ 07:41 am PST

Mini killer

Bill Bennett
9th February, 2012 @ 07:15 pm PST

Most beautiful car I have seen in a long time. Not only does this car look great it has the potential to be a cult hop up sensation. This version and a small back seat version for practical use would be a killer 1-2 punch in the market place. I don't usually add comments but this car is one I would buy. Kia keep up the good work!

DiazBrito
10th February, 2012 @ 04:03 am PST

That C-pillar needs to go to Jenny Craig. Either that or the addition of a camera to spot F-150s boring down on you when backing out of the driveway.

Guy Macher
10th February, 2012 @ 05:37 am PST

A Mini kicker!

Druid
10th February, 2012 @ 08:57 am PST

Honda had a very similar looking bulldog concept some years ago, but did nothing with it.

Mark Keller
10th February, 2012 @ 09:35 am PST

You got to hand it to these two brother/sister Korean auto companies. They were always a generation behind. Now they're kicking the Japanese auto companies butts.

Hopefully some of this little beauty will trickle down to the real thing.

chidrbmt
10th February, 2012 @ 11:26 am PST

Be very wary of buying any Kia - their Customer Support (in the UK at least), is utterly non-existent. Proof...? I bought a 2-year old Kia and it went very well for a while - until odd noises started emanating from the engine bay. Eventually, this was identified as a fractured Crankshaft - by non-Kia mechanics - but Kia UK refused to accept any responsibility for the failure.

The outcome? That Kia had to be written off, as the cost of a replacement engine or having the crankshaft replaced far outweighed the value of the car.

Kia Customer Service...? It doesn't exist.

Kia reliability? Similarly suspect.

Would I buy any Kia again? What do you think...!

Nick Herbert
12th February, 2012 @ 06:01 pm PST

Looks like a mini

Dawar Saify
15th February, 2012 @ 02:20 pm PST
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