Kia Rio Review
Kia launch another generation of their best-selling model in the competitive supermini class.
- Features new technology
- Affordable entry level price
- More space than previous generation
- Some trims feature cheap interior materials
- Cabin noise is intrusive at motorway speeds
Kia are gradually expanding their range as sales are up and the future is looking really bright and busy for the Korean manufacturer.
With that in mind their best-seller the Rio has been overhauled for 2017, so we went along to the UK launch to drive it and see how it compares to the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio.
On the Road
Kia have a few options available in terms of engines, there’s a new turbocharged petrol 1.0 T-GDi producing 99bhp or 118bhp with 171Nm of torque, the former more suited to city driving with its lower performance and there is also a 1.25-litre 83bhp joining the petrol line up alongside a 1.4-litre delivering 98bhp with 133Nm of torque.
At launch our favourite was the 1.4 CRDi diesel engine which has 89hp with 240Nm of torque so packs more of a punch from the off, working well with the Rio’s six-speed manual gearbox to get it up to speed.
Although Kia have added a new suspension to the Rio it is slightly lacking in the ride comfort stakes, you end up trying to avoid any rough, pot hole strewn surfaces as every jolt is likely to be felt in the cabin. Steering, which has also been newly developed gives plenty of feel, it’s light and handling is responsive which is good. OK, it’s not as fun to drive as some rival B- segment cars but it does the job.
The fourth generation of the Kia Rio has a bold, distinctive front grille as seen on other models in the range, it has a lower roofline and a stylish rear and it’s got a longer wheelbase than the previous generation.
The engines aren’t particularly noisy, it’s the road noise though that is very intrusive at motorway speeds as we were having to turn up the navigation voice as we couldn’t hear it.
In the car
There are currently four trim levels available, easily badged, ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and a limited ‘First Edition’. Kia haven’t scrimped on equipment even on the entry level ‘1’ trim as it features Bluetooth LED daytime running lights, air-conditioning and electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, ‘3’ features a 7-inch touchscreen, heated front seats and steering wheel , while the ‘First Edition’ has a smart key entry system, LED rear lights and a faux leather interior.
The interior cabin is well laid out for the driver, in the top level ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’ we drove at launch there are steering wheel mounted controls, a clear 7-inch touchscreen and buttons and dials in the centre stack aren’t clustered making for a simple design.
The Kia Rio comes with advanced connectivity so smartphone users can hook up through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and handily there are USB points for both front and rear passengers.
Available only as a five-door Kia have improved the space over the outgoing generation, there’s plenty of leg and headroom, but rear passengers might find it a bit cramped if three adults pile in as the middle seat isn’t that wide. But then again it is a supermini.
Up amongst the class leaders in terms of boot space it has been increased by 13% to 325-litres, which is 35-litres more than the Ford Fiesta, so a couple of small suitcases would fit in. Seats do fold down just not flat so space can be increased to 980-litres. One thing of note is that the boot lip is quite high.
The Kia Rio is priced from £11,995 for the entry level 1.25-litre in ‘1’ trim with the ‘First Edition’ costing £17,445.
It comes with their super duper seven-year/100,000 mile warranty too but falls short of being a strong contender in the B-segment. Although it’s practical, it’s only well-priced if you go for the entry level and the drive isn’t as entertaining as the Ford Fiesta. If you need a car that’ll will get you from a to b and you don’t mind some of the cheap feel to the interior then the Rio is a good option.
CO2 emissions are as low as 92g/km for the 1.4 CRDi so will fall into tax band A costing nothing in vehicle excise duty, although this will change from April.
MPG will range from the mid forties as high as early eighties for the diesels so expect running costs to be low.
The interior quality in some areas isn’t great, there are a few cheap plastics and although the dash is soft to the touch, it’s not on the doors on the lower trims so lacks some style. That being said the ‘First Edition’ is the complete opposite with a high quality feel cabin with brushed dark red inlays.
Kia have a good track record with reliability, better than some premium manufacturers and always seem to fair well in the reliability surveys. The Rio hasn’t had any major issues with owners praising the low running costs, but improvements have had to be made on the ride and build quality to keep up with rivals.
Kia’s new Rio hasn’t been tested yet in the Euro NCAP ratings, when it last did in 2011 it scored the maximum five stars so can’t see why this would be any different as it comes with plenty of driving assistance and safety systems.
Apart from the entry level trim all Rios have Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition and a lane departure warning system as standard and other driving assistance systems include Straight Line Stability and Cornering Brake Control.