Review: Kia Rio

Review: Kia Rio
Review: Kia Rio

This year has seen a flurry of manufacturers launch new versions of their superminis, each hoping to steal a march in this ultra-competitive market.

While the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza have been hogging the headlines, Kia’s Rio has also had a major refit to bring it right up to date.

As with pretty much every model in its class the new Rio feels like a far more mature car than the superminis that have gone before. It’s longer than before and looks and feels more substantial, not only than its predecessor but also many of its current rivals.

It’s an impression carried over into the cabin. There’s good space in the front and an impressive amount of room for rear passengers, too. The boot capacity is well above the class average, making the Rio a realistic car for family use.

Kia Rio interior

Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi ‘3’ Eco

Kia Rio

Price: £17,365
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder diesel
Power: 89bhp
Torque: 177lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 108mph
0-62mph: 11.6 seconds
Economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 98g/km

The downside to the grown-up interior is that the Rio follows the usual Kia route of being well built, high quality and just a bit drab. There are a lot of dark plastics and dark upholstery that feel like they’ll last an age but don’t pop like the interiors of some rivals.

As with all high-spec Kias our ‘3’ model came packed with kit. My favourite remains the heated steering wheel and, yes, I did use it – early mornings are still chilly, even in July. Also found on the test car were automatic climate control, electric windows all round, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and host of other stability and safety measures.

At the heart of the dash, a quick and clear seven-inch touchscreen media system incorporated DAB, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Kia’s suite of connected services, including live traffic, speed camera and weather updates as well as sat nav.

Kia Rio infotainment

Our test car came with a 1.4-litre diesel engine in 89bhp guise, which proved to be a surprisingly strong and punchy unit. If you do all your driving around towns and cities it’s probably more than you need and you could safely go for the lesser 76bhp version or one of the petrols. If, however, you do a broad mix of urban and extra-urban driving the 89bhp version with its 177lb/ft of torque provides a confidence that this is a supermini that won’t struggle to keep up with the flow.

On the road, the Rio’s more mature feel is reflected in the drive which is best described as stable and safe rather than exciting. The revised steering is very light and there’s not a lot of communication but it is easy to pilot around, especially in town. In terms of ‘fun’ it can’t compete with the class-leading Ford Fiesta. What it can do, however, is get you from A to B in an unruffled fashion thanks to a well damped and controlled ride.

Kia Rio

Kia is part of the UK motoring mainstream now rather than the budget brand it once was. Yet, the Korean manufacturer still steals a march on rivals when it comes to pricing. The gap between this Rio and similarly priced Fiestas, Corsas and 208s might have closed up in recent years but you still get a lot for your money, especially considering the unrivalled seven-year warranty.

If all-out driver fun is your priority then others cars offer more but if you need a spacious and generously kitted-out supermini then the Rio brings a lot to the party.


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