Pay off the credit cards. Donate to a charity. Both are good places to put the money saved by buying a relatively inexpensive vehicle like the Kia Rio or Kia Sportage. But this is SEMA season, so Visa and the endangered insects in Ecuador will have to wait until that new supercharger is paid in full. Kia presented six custom cars at SEMA this year, four 2006 Kia Rios and two 2006 Kia Sportages. The small SUVs, one named Purple Haze and the other Solid Gold, were extreme examples of what paint and wattage can do to a Kia. Purple Haze, which was built by Bassick Addictions, featured a Kicker audio system including 12 subwoofers good for a deafening 4,000 watts, a 32-inch widescreen TV, Eibach springs, leather seats, and Audiovox video components. The other Kia Sportage, Solid Gold, cranked out 2,000 watts, hydraulic suspension, and as is becoming customary in the custom car arena, a plethora of television monitors. Both Sportages used Magnuson superchargers to boost horsepower to 265.
Not to be outdone, the tweaks to Kia’s latest redesigned models, the Rio and Rio5, were equally impressive. Orange Blur, built by Strauss Haus Enterprises, included a 3,000-watt Kenwood sound system featuring multiple amps and subs, Eibach springs, a cat-back exhaust system from Cone Engineering, and an intake system and turbocharger from GP Moto. All told, the 2006 Kia Rio5 known as Orange Blur puts out more than 200-horsepower. Compare that to a stock Rio’s 110 horsepower. Other examples of the Rio and Rio5 included:
• Red Rocket, a five-door with a soft sunroof from Webasto and Sparco racing seats
• Blue Missile, a Rio sedan with a Borg-Warner turbocharger that pushed horsepower above 200, carbon fiber interior inserts, and paint by House of Color
• Silver Streak, a four-door that also provided more than 200 horsepower from a Borg-Warner turbocharger, a super-sized carbon fiber rear spoiler, and svelte suede inserts on the doors and dash.