Kia Trackster at the motor show

18 October 2012
, CarsGuide

It calls itself “a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart’’ and that accurate self-assessment explains a good part of Kia’s increasing impact.

The Korean brand kicks goals in styling and sales, popping into the monthly top 10 list on a number of occasions. Its Rio hatch is the reigning Carsguide car of the year. Kia’s show star is the Trackster concept. Unveiled at February’s Chicago Auto Show, it points towards the next generation of styling theme for Kia and perhaps the next Soul. Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Tony Barlow says it’s no secret the start of Kia’s global re-birth coincided with the design influence and direction introduced by Peter Schreyer.

“You see all the key Kia design touchstones, albeit with a healthy dose of fun and expectation – the sort of special event concept that seems to be happening less and less in an increasingly practical economic environment,’’ he says. The Trackster features the now familiar Kia grille, albeit trimmed in carbon fibre, with integrated swept-back headlights, LEDs and bulging wheel arches, with a longer wheelbase over the current Soul.

Also lengthened are the front doors, which are the concept car’s only entry point as it has lost the production Soul’s rear doors; the concept car is 127mm wider than the production car. The concept car sits on bling 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tyres, with big Brembo vented and cross-drilled disc front brakes gripped by six-piston calipers and 345mm discs and four-piston calipers at the rear.

All that stopping power is required to rein in a 186kW 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four-cylinder. The output is a whacking 66 per cent increase over the production car, and it has got to the road via a six-speed manual gearbox and allwheel drive. Orange suede-covered racing seats contrast with the grey leather interior and sport steering wheel, while the rear seat has been replaced with an integrated equipment tray and spare-tyre wheel well.