Think Ford Fiesta, think Vauxhall Corsa – now think Kia Rio. The latest version of this five-door hatchback from the Korean car company is now better equipped to take the fight to its rivals, as Tim Barnes-Clay reports.
It’s still not the sexiest car on the block, but beauty is only skin deep, and the Rio punches above its weight in many areas. For example, driver comfort is good, with lots of seat and steering wheel adjustment on tap. The dials in the driver’s binnacle are clear and the switchgear is delightfully intuitive to operate. A rather lovely touchscreen adds a modern touch – but, more importantly, it’s simple to use. The dashboard is cheap to the touch, but it doesn’t look it – which saves any negative criticism here.
On the road, the new Kia Rio’s power units are decently hushed. That goes for the 1.4 diesel as well as the 1.0 litre petrol engine. I spent more time with the 90PS 1.4-litre oil-burner. It’s great at pulling from low revs and very economical, returning up to 74.3mpg. The gearbox isn’t exactly slick, but it’s not overly notchy either, and the steering is light, making parking a doddle.
The slightly harsh ride rains on the Rio’s parade ever so slightly, but it’s not awful. The potholes on the rural roads I was testing the car on were deep, so the Rio did bang and crash over them. Sure, you’ll notice the thud of a pothole in any car, but the Kia did seem rather more sensitive to them than, for example, Ford’s Fiesta. No matter, though, just keep to the 16-inch wheels on the Rio and the ride improves vastly. The 17-inch wheels make the car fidgety and more prone to complaining on scarred road surfaces. The new Rio also hugs corners well, with hardly any roll – and grip is first class.
The new Kia Rio’s cabin offers oodles of space up front, but the rear is more restricted. Two adults will be fine, although people over 6ft will not thank you if you take them for a long journey. They’ll be fine in the headroom department, but their legs will be cramped. Mind you, the new Kia Rio’s boot is 13 per cent bigger than the outgoing Rio. There’s now 325 litres of space, which is much better than the Ford Fiesta’s 276-litre boot, or the Vauxhall Corsa’s 280-litre load bay.
Kia is generous when it comes to kit, too. It’s shared across four trims – named 1, 2, 3 and First Edition. All of them get front electric windows, air conditioning, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth connectivity. Move up to ‘2’ and DAB digital radio, a reversing camera, an infotainment screen and alloys are added. Go for a ‘3’ and fake leather heated seats, a bigger infotainment screen, and Apply Carplay and Android Auto are thrown in. Finally, the ‘First Edition’ adds extra frills, such as a smart key entry system, 17-inch alloys, LED rear lights and black and red faux leather seats.
The Kia Rio might not be the most dazzling kid on the block, but it offers low running costs, lots of equipment, a wholesome cabin – and a big boot. On top of all that, the car comes with Kia’s famous seven-year warranty. The new Kia Rio is on sale now. Why not contact Perrys Kia dealerships to find out more?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Kit √
- Efficiency √
- Boot Space √
- Grip √
- Divisive Looks X
Fast Facts (Rio ‘3’ 1.4 CRDi 90PS 6-speed manual ISG- as tested)
- Max speed: 108 mph
- 0-60 mph: 11.6 secs
- Combined mpg: 74.3
- Engine layout: 1396cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel
- Max. power (PS): 90
- CO2: 98 g/km
- Price: £17,245