We're only a few hours into the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, but it's safe to say the Kia Track'ster concept may be one of the stars -- if not the star -- of the show.
Kia's previously toyed with the idea of a Soul spin-off through several different concept cars, but none of the previous efforts looked as wild -- or as unique -- as the Track'ster. Consider the Track'ster the Jeckyl to the Kia Soul's Hyde: the two look similar, yet worlds apart. Not only does the concept lose a pair of doors, but its low roofline, mile-wide track, and blistered fenders lend it an intimidating presence, much like an old Group B rally car.
Conceptually, what lies beneath the Trackster's skin is equally exciting as its exterior. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4, which allegedly cranks out 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission sends that power to the ground by way of an electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system. The Track'ster appears equally adept at stopping: massive cross-drilled Brembo brake rotors, along with six-piston calipers, are plainly visible through the spokes of the custom-designed forged HRE wheels.
Would we like a miniature rally weapon in our garage? You bet. Will Kia provide us with one? That seems unlikely. Company officials freely admit there's no plan to put something like the Track'ster in production, but did note they're interested in gauging reaction to a sporty, three-door take on the Soul. Based on the public's reaction to the Hyundai Veloster, we say there's room for yet another funky three-door hatch in this world -- especially if it's as exciting as the Track'ster.
For more on the Kia Track'ster concept, check out our First Look here. For more on the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Chicago Show homepage.