Bulldog look gives Kia more bite
Bulldog look gives Kia more bite

Kia's designers have let their brazen side off the leash, via a reimagining of its funky yet practical Soul model.

Unveiled at Los Angeles' motor show, the US-designed Track'ster concept is a sensational-looking two-door coupe.

It is lower, wider, more muscly and much more of a performance beast than the five-door Soul, which is a cross between a compact SUV and a hatch.

The Track'ster's 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine produces 185kW that drives all wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. The wheels themselves are monsters - 19 inches in diameter, 9.5 inches wide at the front and a road-hogging 11 inches at the rear.

"The idea was to make the Track'ster tough looking, like a bulldog," the car's chief designer, Tom Kearns, said. "It had to be a bold interpretation that would change people's conceptions of what a sporty Kia could be."

Meanwhile, Kia has announced discounted pricing for some models in its new-generation Rio range until the end of March.

The three-door is at $15,990 (manual) and $17,990 (auto) drive away, while five-door pricing is $16,990 (manual) and $18,990 (auto) drive away. The savings are in the $700-$1000 region.


SOUNDS GOOD

Many readers will recall when a basic car radio was optional on mainstream cars. It's a bit different now, with buying decisions regularly swayed by a car's infotainment edge.

Volkswagen is now pointing out that its upcoming Beetle - revamped and much improved - will be a delight to sore ears. That's if you choose the premium sound system, designed by a name long favoured by rock musicians, Fender.

The audio system was named by American consumer site CNET.com as the best-sounding car stereo of 2011.

"The system's excellent sound and its unbeatable price made the premium product this year's winner," the website commented.

Features include a 10-channel amplifier, 400W output, four tweeters, two woofers and a subwoofer. The Beetle is due here midyear, with pricing likely to start about $25,000.


ASTRA ON ITS WAY

The hot Astra GTC has been confirmed for Australian release by GM's European brand, Opel. The 132kW GTC, which will probably sell for about $37,000, will be part of a four-model Opel line-up that will kick off the brand in Australia in early spring.

The Astra GTC will spearhead Opel's entry downunder. Supplied picture
The others are the Barina-size Corsa (three and five-door hatches), small Astra (five-door hatch and wagon) and mid-size Insignia (sedan and wagon). Opel says its pricing will be similar to Volkswagen's.

LIGHTEN UP

It's nigh on essential for cars to be green these days, and a key way to cut fuel use and emissions is to shed weight.

So Mazda has something to crow about with what it claims are the world's lightest bumpers. Made from a resin that provides the same rigidity as alternative materials, the bumpers will debut on the CX-5 SUV.

The bumpers are also thinner, 20 per cent lighter and twice as quick to mould, reducing the energy used in production.


ADDED ATTRACTIONS

Renault is seeking to seduce people toying with the idea of a fling with a convertible.

The car maker has released a special Summer Edition of its Megane Coupe-Cabriolet, which adds charcoal leather seats and 18-inch alloys without changing the $45,990 price tag.

The West Australian

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