The Concept Car Dilemma: If They Build It, Will They Come?

The Homer

Concept cars stun, shock, bore, delight, enrage, or any combination of the above. But even though the list of triggerable emotions goes on and on, all concepts fall into one of three genres. The first is the stuff of dreams. These cars deserve to be hung up on the wall of an 8 year old’s bedroom. Jaw droppingly gorgeous, concepts in this genre are farfetched and unlikely to see limited production, let alone sitting in a dealer lot. The Saab Aero X and the Jaguar C-X75 fall in this category.  While I love these whacky things, no amount of wishing can will these machines into being.

On the other end of the spectrum are fake concept cars – production ready cars of the next season dressed up in big shiny wheels with glued on plastic frills. Honda fooled no one when it released its 2012 Honda CR-V Concept that it was a gussied up model of the next CR-V. Note to Honda: showing off next year’s model technically counts as showing off the “future” of your design, but there are some fat air-quotes attached. Color me unimpressed.

This wide spectrum leaves consumers with two unhappy choices. Either a concept is painfully gorgeous and equally painful to attain, or a concept is easily attainable but no different than the Toyonda appliance that’s coming next fall.

The concept car dilemna illustrated

But what if a company showed a concept that leans toward the desirable end of the spectrum, but also demonstrates a hint of possible production? Follow the jump to see a surprise entry from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.

Kia manages to do just that with the Kia Track’ster. Ignoring Kia’s strange obsession with apostrophes for a moment, the Track’ster pushes all the right buttons for me. Where Scion lost it’s way with the youth segment is exactly where Kia found it’s cheap and cheerful Soul. But I’ve never liked the Soul. I dislike how it looks, I dislike the cheap interior, and I hated those obnoxious hamster commercials. If I had to choose one word that the Kia was not, I would’ve chosen “Soul”; The car doesn’t have any.

How then, have I fallen in love with the Track’ster? It’s basically a Soul with two doors removed, dropped a few inches, and wearing fat tires on big rims. But somehow it works. (That or Cupid was hung over and shot me on accident).  The Track’ster looks more like a 1st generation xB successor than what Scion has come up with. The squat wide stance drops the cute hamster vibe, while the bulging fender flares barely contain the 19″ HRE wheels. Kia wants you to believe that there’s a rabid 250hp beast inside this retro-modern hot hatch, but sadly, the engine and AWD are vaporware.

The interior wouldn't look out of place in a production car. It even comes with Tools!

But even stripping out the dreamy fluff, the Track’ster defies the concept dilemna. It’s provactive and alluring like a true concept, but it’s also not hard to imagine a toned down version going into production.

This begs the question:  if Kia builds the Track’ster, would you buy one?

Sources: InsideLine, Autoblog