What happens when a dream becomes reality? In the case of the Kia Track’ster concept to feature at the 2012 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, car aficionados begin to salivate. Australian enthusiasts will get their first look at the stunning US-designed performance-oriented three-door Soul coupe concept – a hint at where next generation Soul is heading.
Most striking up front is the Track’ster’s lower intake grille. Flanked by immense LED driving lights with billet aluminium surrounds, the Track’ster is capable of swallowing prodigious amounts of air to keep the engine running cool even under the most gruelling conditions. The lower valance, trimmed in carbon fibre and accented with Inferno Orange, rides just inches off the ground and lends to the car’s menacing stance.
The Track’ster is not just another pretty face; it has a body to match. Sculpted surfaces seem to flow into each other naturally. The flanks are smooth but accented with well-defined wheel enclosures. Tucked beneath the Track’ster’s hips are custom HRE-K1 monoblock billet performance wheels that were a joint effort of Kia’s California design team and HRE. The wheels are wrapped in 245/40-19-inch front and massive 285/35-19-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires.
The wheelbase on the concept is stretched to 2.570 metres, almost 25.4mm longer than the production Soul. As expected on a car with the Track’ster’s performance intentions, large 356mm Brembo vented and cross-drilled disc brakes are embraced by six-piston calipers in front and 340mm discs are paired with four-piston calipers at the rear.
Soul fans will instantly recognise the Track’ster’s angled roof, accented with Inferno Orange. Closer inspection reveals this concept, while Soul inspired, is missing the production car’s rear doors. The front doors have been lengthened and adorned with smooth billet push-style handles which echo the racing-inspired billet fuel filler door. Carbon fibre lower side valances are also accented in Inferno Orange and incorporate functional rear-brake cooling ducts. The back hatch incorporates a horizontal Inferno Orange “backpack” panel that accentuates the Track’ster’s 1917mm width, which is more than 127mm wider than a production Soul.
With performance as the top priority, the Track’ster rolls into Sydney with a concept drivetrain sure to kick start any driving enthusiast’s heart. The design team dreamed big, but also kept their vision firmly rooted in reality. A 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-4 engine pumps 186kW to the pavement, a 66 percent increase over that of the production Soul. Power is routed to all four wheels via an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system. The short-throw six-speed manual transmission is capped with a stubby spherical shift lever. The Track’ster rides on a lowered sport suspension tuned for track performance.
Opening the driver’s door reveals a light and airy interior highlighted with deeply bolstered Inferno Orange suede-covered racing seats. Granite Gray leather envelopes the interior landscape and imparts a feeling of strength and stability. Granite Gray suede wraps the sport steering wheel and door panels. Located deep within red-glowing nacelles, the primary instruments are large and easily readable. Auxiliary vehicle information such as oil temperature and battery voltage is found atop the dash panel while navigation, entertainment and HVAC controls are accessed through a large touch-screen panel located just above the engine Start/Stop push-button.
Behind the front seats is where Track’ster takes a significant step away from its Soul stablemate. The rear seats have been removed and replaced with a fully integrated equipment tray and spare-tyre well. Large panelled bins stow racing gear such as helmets, suits, gloves and tools while emergency supplies are housed within a separate and highly visible Inferno Orange container. A custom rear strut brace incorporates a quick-release handle to allow for fast wheel changes.
While there are no firm plans to produce the Track’ster, Kia’s head of designer Peter Schreyer, speaking at the recent Paris Motor Show, said he harboured strong hopes that the striking concept model could have a production future.