These are the latest pictures of the new Kia Track'ster – a hot hatch concept car that was the star of Kia's Chicago Motor Show stand.
The new three-door coupe points towards a dramatic addition to the Soul range, packing dramatic looks and a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drives all four wheels. Kia says the car is designed for use on the road and on racing tracks, hence its name.
“The idea was to make the Track’ster tough looking, like a bulldog,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia's design studio in California, where the concept was produced. “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 features a distinctive white and orange paint scheme and a dramatic bodykit which makes the car around 13cm wider than the standard Soul. It includes Kia’s signature grille with an air intake trimmed in lightweight carbon fibre, sleek headlights with LEDs and a large lower grille flanked by immense LED driving lights.
The roof, complete with spoiler, is accentuated in contrasting orange. Carbon fibre side skirts are also coloured orange and incorporate rear-brake cooling ducts.
Inside, the Track'ster carries on the aggressive styling theme with deeply bolstered orange suede-covered racing seats, mixed with grey leather for the rest of the cabin. Grey suede is used for the sport steering wheel and door panels, while the dashboard has large red turbine-style dials. A touchscreen controls the sat-nav, stereo and air-con systems.
In the back, the rear seats have been replaced by a tray and space for a spare tyre. “We saw the Track’ster as a performance-inspired concept that could spend time on the road and racetrack,” said Kearns. “The idea was to make the tools and equipment necessary to keep the car performing in top condition easily accessible.”
Kia says there are panels for stowing race helmets, suits and gloves. There is also a rear strut brace which incorporates a quick-release handle to allow for fast wheel changes.
Other highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 section Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tyres at the front and enormous 285/35 tyres at the rear.
Kia says the Track'ster has a 2.5cm longer wheelbase than the regular Soul – which helps to make it look even more sporty. Large 14-inch Brembo vented and cross-drilled disc brakes with six-piston calipers do the stopping at the front, while the rear discs measure 13.6-inches and have four-piston calipers.
The Track'ster has the show to match its go. Under the bonnet is a 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line-four cylinder which drives all four wheels through an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system and a six-speed manual gearbox with a short-throw shift.
The concept also gets sports suspension. There are no official figures, but expect the Track'ster to do 0-60mph in under six seconds with a top speed of 145mph.
Kia says that it has no intention to put the Track'ster into production, but insiders have hinted that with the drop-top Soul'ster likely to join the new Soul range, a three-door hot hatch won't be far behind.