If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Mini designers may be permitted a smirk. Not for long, though: Kia's new Track'ster is likely to be headed for market soon. The concept wowed the crowds at the Chicago Auto Show in February.
The Renault R5-Turbo-look three-door version of the Kia Soul boasts a 250-horspower four-cyclinder engine, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual transmission. Can World Rally thoughts be far behind?
Many Track'ster details, like the alloy-wheel designs, the blacked-out front pillars, the two-tone paint job, and the prominent LED driving lights on the lower part of the front bumper have a certain British flavor, and it sounds like that was on the mind of Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia's California design studio, which was responsible for the creation of the Track'ster. "The idea was to make the Track'ster tough-looking, like a bulldog," he said. "But the car had to be approachable as well. We wanted to base the car so people instantly knew it was a Soul, but with a lot of attitude."
Other notable styling cues include flared wheel arches to cover up the 245/40-19-inch front and massive 285/35-19-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport 2 high-performance tires, while the concept's wheelbase is almost an inch longer than the production Soul. The car is 75.5 inches wide, more than five inches wider than the five-door Soul. Inside, Kia's designers opted for a two-seat layout with a new dashboard design, which the Soul could certainly use.
Under the hood is Hyundai and Kia's two-liter turbocharged four, rated at 250 horsepower and linked to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission. Kia fitted the Soul concept with an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system.
The Track'ster rides on a lowered sport suspension and features 14-inch Brembo vented and cross-drilled disc brakes with six-piston calipers in front and 13.6-inch discs paired with four-piston calipers at the rear.
However, Kia says that it has no current plans to produce the Track'ster—and if you believe that, you haven't been following Korean design-and-production progress very closely, have you? ––Paul DucheneBack to News