MEET THE KIA TRAIL'STER: Others are seeing it in the metal at the 2015 Chicago auto show, a 4x4 hybrid "for the great America outdoors'. Huh! Africa says: 'Bring it on, Kia!" Image: Kia Motors
• Advanced Soul-based off-roader
• Bold design, concertina canvas roof
• Created in California design studio
CHICAGO, Illinois - Kia Motors America has "aligned form and function" to create "a uniquely compelling vehicle" for city dwellers-turned-outdoors adventurer and took the wraps off it at the 2015 Chicago auto show.
It's called the Trail'ster e-AWD concept - a family CUV that Wheels24 told you a little about a week earlier.
BUILT FOR ESCAPING
It's based on Kia's Soul urban passenger vehicle, is turbocharged, and comes with a Polar Pearl Snowdrift/Terra Bronze Metallic paint scheme, folding canvas roof and aluminium skid plates.
Kia says: "It captures the essence of an advanced and capable CUV intended for those looking to escape their urban environs in search of higher-elevation playgrounds where snow, mud, streams and trails abound."
(We wonder how it might handle Africa, but whatever...)
Kia says the "efficient and light" Trail'ster is ideal for "transporting adventurers and their gear. With its rugged, functional and upscale approach to an active mountain-focused lifestyle, Trail'ster was dreamt up at Kia's California design studio, birthplace of the unforgettable Track'ster and GT4 Stinger".
GALLERY: Kia Trail'ster concept
Tom Kearns, chief designer at Kia's Design Centre of America, explained: "The Trail'ster concept is a near-future look at how the production Kia Soul would logically evolve into an AWD-capable version to escape the city and roam into the mountain wilderness."
Or, going by the images, ski slopes and other icy places... Kearns continued: "It takes the go-anywhere capability of an SUV and re-imagines it within a compact and sporty package with an expressive design to match."
AND A ROLLBACK CANVAS ROOF
Underscoring Kia's focus on all-wheel drive, the Trail'ster's design team says it would enable a wide array of mountain activities, from skiing and snowboarding through camping to hiking and mountain biking.
"The Trail'ster - thanks to a rear axle-mounted electric all-wheel-drive system - is all about surefootedness in the wild," Kia added.
The car has a full-length, weatherproof, rollback canvas roof which, Kia says, "lightens the vehicle and lowers its centre of gravity". The roof also has rack recievers with aluminium cross rails to carry bikes and (think Maluti Mountains, Drakensberg) snowboards.
The Trail'ster's use of advanced LED technology creates a strong and unique lighting identity from top to bottom, front to back. Upfront, the signature Kia grille bars extend through the K900-style projector headlights to create a full-width frontal graphic. Below, "expressive fog light elements" Kia says, "give the vehicle a bold personality while providing additional wattage for illuminating off-the-beaten-track excursions".
The Trail'ster's rear is framed by diode tail lights in "durable, ruggedized light housings"; there's more "ruggedizing" with aluminium underbody plates around the entire vehicle.
The Trail'ster is primarily powered by a four-cylinder, 135kW, 1.6 turbocharged engine driving a six-speed auto transmission. In support is a 27kW electric all-wheel-drive on the rear axle tht's meant for low-speed assistance, launch acceleration and more traction in bad weather or off-road.
Together, they make 386Nm, and the electric power cuts in automatically as needed. Braking or coasting will feed power back to the battery.
Rough terrain? The Trail'ster has been raised about 65mm over the production Soul and the concept machine is wearing Pirelli Winter Carving 245/45 19" snow tires for enhanced traction and uses KSport coil-over shocks to absorb the impact of rough, uneven ground and rocky surfaces.
Bring it on, Kia!