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Kia Track'ster Concept Debut

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What's New

What you see before you is a designer's imagination let loose on the Kia Soul compact hatchback. What you see here is likely also a very loose interpretation of what the next generation Kia Soul will look like, a car likely to debut sometime next year as a 2014 model. While we love the Track'ster's hunkered-down, exaggerated race car styling and three-tone paint job, we're not looking at its pure concentration of awesomeness with too much seriousness. We are, however, looking at the car's more fluidic styling, different headlight shape, and more cohesive interpretation of the "tabbed" Kia grille that lead designer Peter Schreyer admitted was an afterthought on the first generation of Kia Souls. The concept directs us to the fact that Kia is open to creating radically sporty vehicles. And that its attention to the Soul, the best-selling vehicle in its segment, isn't being taken too lightly.

Who It's For

The production Soul is for young urbanites that enjoy the company of their posses -- or people around retirement age who love functional boxes -- and have been left orphaned by Honda's discontinuation of the Element crossover. This Kia Track'ster concept in particular is aimed at neither of those audiences. It doesn't have rear doors, or rear seats, for that matter. It has large bins in its rear deck for helmet and parts storage for weekend racing. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, a massively more powerful 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and a six-speed manual. To us, the Kia Track'ster concept looks like a healthy alternative to a Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Golf R, or Ford Focus ST.

Key Features

The Kia Track'ster concept's more interesting points include:
  • An extra inch of space between the front and rear wheels than the current Kia Soul's, showing that the next Soul will likely grow just slightly over the current car if it integrates the Track'ster's underpinnings, a distinct possibility.
  • The Track'ster's Whiteout and Inferno Orange paint job that looks positively sinister.
  • A track-dedicated package, including a 19-inch wheels, a six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive, and a 250-horsepower turbocharged engine.

What We Think

If Kia were to make the Track'ster a reality, it would shake up the sporty car hierarchy with an affordable, eccentric sporty compact. Besides, it seems like a slam dunk: anybody else notice how it's dimensions and name are similar to the Hyundai Veloster? Still, Kia insists it's not going to happen, and we're well aware of that. What is, though, is the second-generation Kia Soul. We've been wondering how an automaker goes about evolving a car's design that was ostensibly designed with just a protractor and a ruler. But if the Track'ster shows us anything, it's that we can expect a lot of the Soul's current styling cues to live on in future cars and a smoother, slinkier look to continue on as Kia keeps it momentum rolling. We're eager to see how it all shakes out.

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