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CANVAS ROOF FOR WINTER?

| 14/02/2015 | 0 Comments

Based on the brand’s iconic Soul urban passenger vehicle, the turbocharged Kia Trail’ster e-AWD concept with roll-top canvas roof and armoured aluminium skid plates captures the essence of an advanced and capable CUV (crossover utility vehicle) intended for those looking to escape their urban environs in search of higher-elevation playgrounds where snow, mud, streams and trails abound.

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 also of the unforgettable Track’ster. “The Trail’ster concept 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,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer, Kia Design Centre of America (KDCA). “It takes the go-anywhere capability of an SUV and reimagines it within a compact and sporty package with an expressive design to match.”

The Trail’ster is primarily powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine outputting 188 ps and 251 Nm of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission, matched to an electric all-wheel drive system on the rear axle intended for low-speed assist, enhanced launch acceleration and improved traction in inclement weather or off-road situations. In addition, this approach helps mitigate turbo lag by providing instant torque. The system also improves fuel economy over standard all-wheel drive setups by operating only when needed and serving as an energy recovery mechanism.

The Trail’ster’s electric propulsion system draws energy from a 1.2 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery powering a 27 kW, 270 volt AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor outputting 36 ps and 100 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels and bringing total output to an impressive 220 horses and 136 Nm of torque. To further improve fuel efficiency, the system also utilises a Hybrid Starter Generator (HSG) to start/stop the engine as needed (and to feed energy to the high voltage battery), and an electrically driven A/C compressor, which can run when the engine is shut off. This technology is designed for easy, lightweight packaging, with the compact battery pack stored under the cargo floor.

Operationally, the rear electric drive system engages in one of three scenarios, depending on throttle position and road conditions: Under light throttle, the Trail’ster attains true clean mobility as the electric motor drives the car solely for a range of two to three miles; under normal driving, the rear electric motor assists the 1.6-litre turbo during acceleration events calling for greater power and torque; when treading off-road or on wet pavement, the electric drive system is introduced when front wheel slippage is detected. Finally, the Trail’ster’s electric motor acts as a generator to recover kinetic energy and recharge the battery when the vehicle is braking or coasting.

For traversing tough terrain, the Trail’ster has been raised more than two-and-a-half inches over the production Soul. In addition, this mountain rover wears Pirelli Winter Carving 245/45-19 snow tires for enhanced traction and utilises KSport coilover shocks to absorb the impact of rough, uneven ground and rocky surfaces. The Trail’ster wears aluminium cladding around the entire vehicle, providing a protective armour to shield the undercarriage from jagged rocks and ice.

Overhead, the Trail’ster features a stylish full-length, weatherproof rollback canvas roof to create an open-sky environment for occupants. This fully retractable cover also helps lighten the vehicle and lowers the centre of gravity. Integrated roof rack fittings with aluminium cross rails allow adventurers to tote mountain bikes or snowboards with ease.

The focal point of Trail’ster’s interior is a tactile and sturdy centre console incorporating a thickset gear shifter, AWD controls and a bright red ignition button. Brown leather-trimmed seats feature a pillow-embossed textile for the seat inserts and the floor mats feature aluminium inlays for all-weather traction. Cabin materials are inspired by snow sports gear and equipment, like leather, high-gloss paint and metallic trim.

Being based on the Kia Soul means the Trail’ster also benefits from efficient packaging and an abundance of space for passengers and their cargo as they head out on their next adventure.

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