Kia Rio: road test
The Rio looks smart, drives well and won’t break the bank.
What is it?
The Kia Rio is a five-door supermini priced from £12,135. It’s spacious, generously equipped and available in four trim grades with a choice of efficient engines.
How safe is it?
The new fourth-generation Kia Rio has not received its Euro NCAP safety rating yet, but the outgoing model was awarded five stars and the new model features more safety features.
Who should buy one?
It’s ideal for families, city-dwellers and owners keen to avoid any hidden costs. What you see is what you get: a good quality car that is reliable to run and fun to drive.
Road test by Maxine Ashford 24 May 2017
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
While the Rio is never going to set the world alight with its performance and driving dynamics, it is a very good all-rounder and makes sense for anyone looking for the complete package. There are 10 Rio versions to choose from, with a selection of diesel and petrol engines. In addition, there are three transmissions and trim levels called ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ – a limited run First Edition model is on sale for the first year.
We tested the 1.4 CRDi 89bhp diesel model in grade 3 which is always going to be a popular choice with long-distance drivers, thanks to the combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg.
The first feature that impressed us was how comfortable and spacious the Rio is, with all the dials and read-outs perfectly placed for ease of use. The cabin has a modern feel and is neatly styled with a user-friendly touchscreen.
When it comes to performance, the Rio had plenty of gusto despite its small power output. It coped well on the open road and was light and agile when facing twisting country lanes, where any noticeable body roll was minimal.
At times the suspension seemed a little firm, especially on bumpy road surfaces, but apart from that minor issue the Rio was full of fizz, and coped well with anything put in its path. The six-speed manual gearbox was smooth and responsive, but you can expect to change down through the gears on longer climbs.
We also had the opportunity to drive the 1.0 T-GDi 118bhp petrol model in First Edition grade. This car, priced at £17,585, certainly featured all the design bells, with stunning black and red seats. It also proved livelier when put to the test, with a faster sprint time, reaching 60mph from a standing start in 9.8 seconds (compared with 11.6 seconds in the diesel).
Both models will have their own individual appeal. All Kia models come with a seven-year warranty.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Inside the Rio there’s easily enough room for four adults to travel in comfort (five at a squeeze).
The latest model (now five-door only) has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, which helps make the Rio’s cabin one of the roomiest in its class.
Boot space has increased too, with a new capacity of 325 litres, which expands to 980 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition there is an open tray, sunglasses holder, a single-box glove compartment, bottle holders in every door (1.5 litres at the front and 0.5 litres at the back) and small storage areas near the door handles.
The cabin has a modern, stylish appearance. The touchscreen (size ranges from 3.5 inches to 7.0 inches depending on trim level) is easy to operate and links up to smartphones via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In addition, there are USB ports in the front and rear, so all occupants can stay connected on the move.
Kia has made great strides in addressing the Rio’s safety, with an ultra-stiff body shell and numerous structural enhancements. The Rio offers autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning system as standard (except in the entry-level model where it’s extra). The Rio’s Euro NCAP test hasn’t yet been published.
As you move up through the grades you can expect to see a seven-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, automatic air-con, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, privacy glass, keyless entry, Bluetooth, Android and Apple connectivity. Other than metallic paint and servicing packages there are few optional extras.
With prices starting from £12,135 and rising to £17,585, the Rio is competitively priced against the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo. Economy figures are impressive, and insurance ratings are low. That makes the Rio a sensible buy, especially if you plan to keep the car long enough to benefit from the seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
WE SAY The Rio looks smart, drives well and won’t break the bank.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.6 seconds
Economy: 74.3mpg combined
Tax: £120 first year, then £140 standard
Figures for the Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi 89bhp ‘3’ Eco