Kia's Track'ster Concept is one of the big hits of the Chicago Auto Show, one of the rare concepts that just screams, "Build me!" But after a thorough interrogation of Kia's PR team and an interview with design chief Peter Schreyer, we realize that's just wishful thinking. We do, however, expect the next Soul to look something like the Track'ster, with Kia deploying more than one variant when the second generation appears in a few years.
"If the Soul were to evolve into a family, it would be nice," Schreyer told us.
Kia spokesman Scott McKee repeatedly said the Track'ster was just a concept and not intended to be production feasible, all the while issuing the standard auto company disclaimer, "Every concept car we do is about gathering information from consumers and media."
One of the big pieces of information Kia is likely looking for is whether performance cars from Kia would play with the notoriously cliquish enthusiast community. Even more importantly, however, Kia will be gauging interest in additional body styles for the Soul. Schreyer said he thinks the Soul would be "more substantial" if it were also offered in a two-door version, or in a more performance-oriented flavor. All-wheel drive is a feature Schreyer also specifically mentioned as being on his wish list.
The Track'ster concept uses a production Soul body, but the vehicle's all-wheel-drive system is a one-off unit built just for the show car, rather than sourced from another Kia product. That and the ambiguous response we got when asking about what was done to make the turbo 2.0-liter produce 250-horsepower (read: there's not really a 250-horsepower engine under that shiny white hood) point towards the Track'ster being more of a design study than anything else.
"In a positive way, the Soul is like the black sheep of the family."
Shreyer commented on a few aspects of the Track'ster that he said he'd like to see in the next-generation Soul. These included the blacked-out A-pillar (just like in the current production car); the "softer," more raked roofline; the Track'ster's uphill C-pillar; and the taillights, which he described as being a more modern interpretation of the first-generation Soul.
What we should not expect of the next Soul, however, is for it to resemble the rest of the rapidly evolving Kia lineup. Schreyer was definite in his stance that the Soul will remain an outlier. "In a positive way, the Soul is like the black sheep of the family," he said.