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Auto Show:  2011 Sema Auto Show

Kia Race Car and Surfer Themed Rios - SEMA Auto Show

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2012 Kia Rio

author photo by Jeffrey Archer November 2011

Nearly every Kia at this year's SEMA show paid homage to a different sport - and the compact Rio joined in the fun with a retro-themed surfing model, which was shown along with a full-on race car based on the newly released Rio5 hatchback.

Created in collaboration with trendy lifestyle publication Antenna magazine and billed as a "one-of-a-kind retro ride aimed at totally radical surfing enthusiasts," the surf-themed Rio5 is certainly among the least conventional cars that debuted at SEMA. Exterior features include metallic golden-brown paint, gold wheels, a custom body kit, an aftermarket exhaust and a front splitter that's fashioned from wood to match an old surfboard. And while the surfer's Rio doesn't sport any wood paneling, the hatchback also includes a roof-mounted surfboard rack so wave riders can throw their boards on the roof and head to the beach.

The customized is even more unique on the inside thanks to a rear-mounted video game console that plays 1980s arcade games, wooden shelves for carrying sandals and swimsuits, and a vinyl record player. A waterproof vinyl interior, woven floor mats and unique plaid upholstery are also included.

But while the surfer's Rio is silly, the Rio racecar is the exact opposite. Purpose built to compete in B-Spec showroom stock racing, the Rio racecar includes lightweight alloy wheels, a totally stripped cabin, improved suspension and a roll cage. According to the automaker, the racy Rio was prepared by racing firm Kinetic Motorsports, who will offer the modifications to customers looking to build and compete in Grand Am races or Sports Car Club of America events with their own car.

The Rio, which was fully redesigned for 2012, features a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and is priced from $13,300 before destination. Announced at this year's Geneva Auto Show, the third-generation Rio features standard curtain side airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and a USB port, an iPod hookup and satellite radio for audiophiles.

See more coverage of the 2011 SEMA Auto Show.

JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.
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