Things are shaping up nicely for next week's Chicago Auto Show, key among them this new Kia concept called Track'ster. Riffing on the Korean automaker's hit Soul compact, the Track'ster keeps much of the small car's boxy style, but turns the wick up considerably by scrubbing the rear doors, fitting a gaping front end, substituting massive showcar wheels and dramatically lowering the right height.

This isn't the first time Kia has toyed with the idea of a Soul spinoff – at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, it presented the Soul'ster, a rough-and-tumble concept vehicle with a small pickup bed. Thanks to a strong response from the public, the Soul'ster was understood to be under consideration for production, but its hopes reportedly fizzled due to the economic meltdown.

Despite being on the market since 2008, the Soul continues to pick up momentum in chunks. Thanks in part to a refresh for 2012 that addresses hopes for more powerful drivetrains, the Soul has emerged as one of Kia's best sellers – last month, it was only slightly outdistanced by the Optima midsize sedan, and it's outpacing Sorrento, which was Kia's best-seller last year.

Will Kia finally pull the trigger on a Soul variant? We should know more after the Track'ster makes the show circuit rounds.

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