Kia’s Trail’ster concept raises standards above hatchback
KIA’S latest debut isn’t just a regular Soul hatchback with some extra-funky styling. Add hybrid power, all-wheel drive, and off-road capability, and you have the Trail’ster concept.
Kia said the Trail’ster can tackle off-roading adventures owning to a number of mechanical and exterior upgrades. Armored aluminum skidplates protect the undercarriage from jagged rocks and ice, and coil-over shocks allow for stability on uneven surfaces. But the real action happens inside the hybrid drivetrain.
The Trail’ster experiments with turbocharging in the form of a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 185 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. Also powering the Trail’ster is a 27-kilowatt hour, 270-volt electric motor with 35 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque paired with a 1.2-liter lithium-ion battery located stored under the cargo floor.
This provides a combined total of 220 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly more than the traditional Soul’s 130-hp, 1.6-liter engine or 164-hp, 2.0-liter engine.
Unlike other hybrid systems that are joined through the transmission, there is no mechanical connection between the Trail’ster engine, which is located in the front, and the electric motor in the rear.
This creates two separate power sources for a “through-the-road” hybrid system. The electric motor plays the role of assisting the gasoline engine during heavy loads or while off-roading.
And unlike the Track’ster and GT4 Stinger concepts that have faded into the background, it looks like there could actually be a future for the Trail’ster on the not too distant horizon.
Chief Designer at Kia’s design center in California, Tom Kearns said the Trail’ster is a “near-future look at how the production Kia Soul would logically evolve into an AWD-capable version that’s built to escape the city streets and roam into the mountain wilderness.”
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