Come, SEMA Kia...all six of them
Ah, it's the time of year. Before we get too hyped up for Christmas, hangovers on school days become more frequent, and we all find ourselves low in cash but high in copies of Clarkson's latest DVD – it's SEMA Show time.
Held in glamorous Las Vegas, the SEMA show revels in all that is custom and a little bit modified*. Kia has created six sports-themed cars to display, each slightly madder than the last.
First up, the Slam Dunk Blake Griffin Optima Hybrid. Blake Griffin leapt over an Optima to win the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Competition and went on to become an ambassador for the brand. Built by West Coast Customs, famous for MTV's Pimp My Ride series, the Optima Hybrid was inspired by Griffin's game of choice – basketball. It comes with a basketball style orange paint job, 20-inch matte black wheels and Griffin's own logo on the bonnet.
Inside, passengers are treated to basketball court flooring, custom cow skin seats, more of Griffin's logo, two flat screen TVs hooked up to an Xbox and a sound system guaranteed to knock your face off. Brap brap indeed.
The 'Hole-in-One' Soul was also designed by West Coast Customs and is inspired by, funnily enough, Golf. Kia's ambassador for the game is Michelle Wie, who keeps a Soul as her daily steer. Her special car features 20-inch alloys and her own art work.
Her logo is dotted around the cabin, which is highlighted in baby blue. There's artificial grass flooring throughout the car, and a 26-inch LED TV connected to an Xbox360 and Kinect system to create a virtual driving range. It's certainly a car you can fit golf clubs in...
"Retro Surf" is a new Rio five-door, which has everything a modern surfer could possibly need from a car. It has lowered suspension (gnarly), 17-inch gold alloys (rad), a sunset-metallic paint job (cool), a custom body kit with a wooden front splitter (to match the 'board on the roof) and a redesigned rear facia.
To make the interior feel like a surfer's paradise, Kia has upholstered the door panels and seats in brown and beige paid board short fabric and added a wood grain centre console. When a hard day's wave shredding is over, you and your surfer buddies can chill out by the Rio's rear hatch and play vintage video games while listening to vinyl choons (the Beach Boys, maybe?).
Kia's Forte hasn't escaped the modifier's blow torch; the 'Hat Trick' is all about ice hockey. The boot has been fettled to carry sticks in safety and comfort (skates, presumably, can look after themselves). The rear sees the bench removed and gets two bucket seats, an air hockey table, an Xbox, two TVs embedded in the front headrests and rubberized flooring.
Outside it gets a custom ice metallic grey paint job, a different front bumper, LED 'hockey stick' front headlights, a quad exhaust and lowered suspension. There's even a coaches' play board in the headlining. That's pretty impressive.
Race fans will love the final two cars in Kia's line up: the Rio 5-Door B-Spec Racer and the USTCC Optima Hybrid Pace Car.
The Rio B-Spec racer will be an actual race car and will compete with the likes of the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Honda Jazz (Fit in the US). The racers will set buyers back around $14,000 (£9,000) and offers an affordable way of getting on to a track. A roll cage, harness, racing seat and other racing sundries come with the car. Pretty sweet deal, really...
The Optima Hybrid Pace Car will be keeping pace at the United States Touring Car Championship. It's been given a free-flow air intake, Magnaflow exhaust, coilover springs, front splitter, rear wing, lightweight wheels and sticky track tyres.
It'll be coated in eye-catching details and decals, but more interesting is how much attention the inside has received. It's got a 2,400 watt sound system, a DVD video system and wireless headphones. How many pace cars take passengers with them?