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Brand New Kia Soul

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Mike Stevens | Feb 9, 2012

When the Soul hit the scene a few years ago, it wasn't merely another five-door hatch, it was a statement: Kia is through with producing dowdy commuters.

In this week's Soul-based Track'ster concept, and last year's GT four-door coupe, Kia's added a new paragraph to its declaration: go-fast looks are good, but going fast is better.

With a turbocharged 2.0 litre engine delivering 185kW to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission and an electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system, we suspect the Track'ster concept is quick.

How quick? No idea; Kia hasn't supplied the all-important performance figures, but we imagine its 0-100km/h sprint would land somewhere in blistering hot-hatch territory.

Apart from its Golf R-targeting propulsion package, the Track'ster comes with a set of custom HRE monoblock billet 19-inch wheels wrapped in 245/40 rubber at the front and a very chunky 285/35 at the back.

Behind the front wheels are 355mm vented and cross-drilled discs gripped by six-piston Brembo calipers, with 345mm discs at the rear with four-piston calipers.

As for its styling, sure, it's a little MINI-esque. And if it was unveiled next year instead of today, you'd say the headlights are a little too 1 Series. Ignore all of that though, and the Track'ster is still one of the meatiest hot-hatch concepts we've seen.

Massive Golf GTI W12-rivalling flared guards, twin exhaust tips mirrored at the other end by billet-aluminium wrapped foglights, gaping intakes and a wraparound glasshouse... it's a good look.

"The idea was to make the Track'ster tough looking, like a bulldog," Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia's Californian design studio, said.

"But the car had to be approachable as well. 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 perceptions of what a sporty Kia could be," Kearns added.

It's 127mm wider than the regular Soul - thank those huge guards for that - and despite having only two doors on the side, its wheelbase is about 25mm longer.

Inside, you'll find just two seats, with the rear space given over to a spare wheel, tool kit, racing gear and an emergency kit.

None of us this is intended for production, mind you. Not officially, anyway. Like the popular Soul'ster ute, the Track'ster will probably be consigned to the Kia museum. But it does give us hope.

Now, how do we get a drive in this thing...

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