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World debut of high-performance Kia

Kia takes a Soul and turns it into a 250bhp track-bashing beast for the Chicago auto show

  • 19in HRE wheels and Whiteout and Inferno Orange paint scheme make the Track’ster stand out.Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Stripped rear seats – instead you get track gear and a spare performance tyre – and suede adorning the wheel aImage Credit: Supplied picture

Korean carmaker Kia has already green-lighted its zany spin-off of the already zany Soul, the Soul’ster, for production. So now that that’s out of the way, the company’s California design studio had to keep busy, and the square-spectacled, turtle-neck wearing boys and girls came up with the Track’ster concept for the Chicago auto show.

The Track’ster takes a step away from the trendy images of the Soul and Soul’ster with a goal to appeal to serious car enthusiasts and petrolheads.

“The idea was to make the Track’ster tough looking, like a bulldog,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia Motors America. “It had to be a bold interpretation that would change people’s conceptions of what a sporty Kia could be.”

Kia reckons that’s mission accomplished. The first thing that catches your eye is the Whiteout and Inferno Orange paint scheme, before you move on to the bold carbon fibre signature grille featuring an air intake slit, bulging wheel arches, the lower intake grille, LED driving lights with billet aluminium surrounds, and carbon fibre body trim.

You also probably haven’t missed the 19in HRE wheels draped in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tyres, but you’d have to be quite savvy to notice the wheelbase of the Track’ster is stretched almost 2.5cm longer than the production Soul. All in the name of performance, as are the 14in vented Brembo brakes with six-piston callipers up front, and 13.6in discs paired with four-pots at the rear.

Kia wants us to believe this is a true performance car, and why not? The Track’ster has a 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line-four engine putting 250 horsepower to all four wheels via an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system. The short-throw six-speed manual transmission is capped with a stubby shift lever, and the Track’ster rides on a lowered suspension tuned for the track.

Inside the concept car, designers highlighted the cabin with deeply bolstered suede bucket seats, suede wrapped steering wheel and door panels. Then they also removed the rear seats, and replaced them with equipment trays and a spare-tyre well. Judging by how the Soul’ster eventually got the OK for production, we’re crossing fingers for the Track’ster to show up at your local Kia dealership one day.