Kia America, the fastest-growing car company in the US, says it will arrive at the 2011 Sema show in Las Vegas with six “outrageous” sports-themed vehicles.
GOLF BUGGY: This is the Kia Soul ‘Hole-In-One’, styled according to the whim of golf star Michelle Wie.
The automaker said the vehicles were inspired by Kia’s growing US sports marketing portfolio that includes basketball, women’s golf and motorsport. Two were built by West Coast Customs, others in partnership with a popular lifestyle magazine called Antenna, GoGoGear and Kia’s America’s racing partner Kinetic Motorsports.
Michael Sprague, Kia US’s marketing boss, said: “Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth so we’re bringing the most exciting range of Kia show cars to Sema, including several variations on the new Rio sedan and the Optima Hybrid.
“Our involvement in the sports world has dramatically increased awareness of Kia. With some high-profile partners we have created a line-up of fun and eye-catching vehicles with unique back stories and plenty of personality.”
Here’s what they are....
‘Slam Dunk’ Blake Griffin Optima Hybrid
Kia’s Optima became a US pop culture icon when Blake Griffin leaped over one of the cars to win the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk basketball competition. He is now a spokesman for Kia and has several TV spots set to air in the US over the next few months.
POP CULTURE CAR: The day basketball star Blake Griffin leaped over a Kia started this basketball-themed creation.
Taking the Kia-Blake Griffin partnership to the next level, West Coast Customs created a basketball-themed Optima Hybrid that adds some hardwood flair to Kia’s first hybrid in the US. It has a basketball-like orange paint job accentuated by 20” black wheels and Griffin’s logo on its bonnet.
The cabin has basketball-court flooring instead of carpets, leather upholstery with Griffin’s autograph embroidered in the front head restraints, leather and suede door panel and headlining and a booming audio system with custom enclosures in the boot.
A screen in each of the front head restraints gives rear passengers access to a Microsoft X-Box video game console and a “Pop-a-Shot” basketball hoop is mounted in the boot.
‘Hole-In-One’ Michelle Wie Soul
This golf-themed unit (pictured top of story) was assembled by West Coast Customs but inspired by Michelle Wie, Kia’s official golf ambassador and one of the world’s most recognisable young athletes.
Wie drives a Soul in northern California while attending classes at Stanford University and this funky Soul’s “So Blue” exterior paint job and five-spoked, 20” wheels incorporate her original artwork, which can also be found on the custom-embroidered Nike golf bags she uses at tournaments.
Wie’s artwork and personal logo also are on the Soul’s white leather head restraints and a baby-blue painted fascia and pink headlining complete the whimsical interior look.
The cabin floor is covered with artificial grass, the boot hatch opens to reveal a virtual driving range with a 26” screen and two of Wie’s tournament golf bags are mounted behind the TV to conceal eight-inch speakers and a subwoofer.
‘Retro Surf’ Rio 5-Door
Kia has for a third consecutive year partnered with Antenna magazine, this time to create the Retro Surf Rio sedan that has everything a surfer needs for a day and night at the beach, including an authentic Grain wooden surfboard on its roof.
BOLD KICKER HERE: Text here.
This Rio has been lowered with a modified suspension and has 17”, three-piece gold wheels, a metallic golden paint job, a custom body kit with a wooden front splitter and a redesigned tail with a centre-exit dual exhaust.
All seats and door panels have been covered in brown/beige plaid board-shorts fabric and the wood-grain centre console brings the surfboard theme inside.
The rear console has been modified as a shelf to hold sunscreen and other beach/ocean accessories; there’s even a towel rack.
Come nightfall, surfer dudes will open the boot to find a juicing station, a retro game console, a turntable to play vinyl records and shelves for sandals and clothing.
‘Hat Trick’ Forte sedan
Ice-hockey players carry a lot of bulky gear so the Antenna Hat Trick Forte sedan has been modified to handle it all: a hockey-stick holder stretches from the boot through the centre of the cabin and that means two rear bucket seats flanked by bottle-holders.
JOLLY FOR HOCKEY STICKS: Ice-hockey players, understandably, need a cool car. This one even has ice-grey paint.
Rubberised flooring simulates the surface found outside an ice rink and a mini air hockey table has been mounted in the rear hatch area. Screens in the head restraints work with an X-Box video game console.
The Forte is finished with ice-grey metallic paint, 19” blue alloy rims, a custom body kit and Forte Koup front bumper with carbon fibre accents and diode hockey-stick fog lights, a quad-tipped exhaust, carbon fibre roof and a lowered suspension.
The headlining carries a hockey coach’s play board and the locker room-like boot has compartments for hockey equipment and a rack to dry gloves and hockey clothing.
Rio sedan B-Spec Racer
Fresh off Kia’s first Grand-Am Team and Driver road-racing championships, the first expansion to Kia’s US motorsport programme will be an entry into showroom stock (“B-Spec”) racing with 2012 Rio sedan.
The car will race against models such as the Mazda 2, Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta in a range of events organised by various bodies, including World Challenge, Grand-Am, Sports Car Club of America and National Auto Sport Association.
B-Spec racing is a relatively affordable way for any car enthusiast to get into competitive motorsport.
Once a racing hopeful buys a Rio a B-Spec kit can be added for the equivalent of about R112 000 by Kia’s racing partner, Kinetic Motorsports. The package includes a roll cage, race seat, quick-release steering wheel, racing harness, shock-absorbers, alloy rims with spec-series tyres and sump pan expansion kit.
USTCC Optima Hybrid Pace Car
In addition to Kia’s championship winning Forte Koup motorsport programme, the Soul has been the official pace car for the US Touring Car championship since March 2010.
In 2012 Kia will supply an Optima Hybrid to replace the Soul.
The USTCC Optima has vinyl graphics and an array of lighting, including diode auxiliary lights and high-intensity discharge headlights, strobe lights and a diode light bar.