What is it?
A car that can turn in Co2 emissions of 85g/km sounds like it must be a hybrid, and a pretty extreme one at that. But Kia’s new Rio Ecodynamics is simply a diesel supermini, and those emissions make it the lowest producer of carbon dioxide this side of a zero emissions electric car.
It’s propelled by a new three cylinder 1.1 litre twin cam, common rail diesel engine featuring a variable vane turbo and this, together with the usual carbon cutters of longer gearing, low rolling resistance tyres, a roof spoiler, a closed-off front grille and a stop-start system allow it to return a spectacular 88.3mpg on the official combined cycle.
That’s for the model without air conditioning – pay the extra £800, and the figures fall to a still outstanding 78.5mpg and 94g/km. A six-speed gearbox and a fat, 125lb ft torque curve that peaks at an early 1500rpm and remains sustained to 2750rpm also help the Rio go further on a gallon.
In other respects this ultimate Ecodynamics version is much the same as models in the rest of the new Rio range, which means that you get a car that’s among the biggest in its class, a roomy cabin being the result, fairly generous equipment that includes six airbags and ESP and a style that’s neatly contemporary, if short of the flair characterising the brand’s most recent models. You also get Kia’s desirable seven-year 100,000 mile warranty.
What’s it like?
The 1.1 diesel is probably the most impressive engine in the new Rio range, and not merely because it delivers more performance than you’d expect from an engine of such unpromising capacity and diet. It immediately sounds little different with its three cylinder idle thrum, revs keenly and cleanly and best of all, delivers such a stout slug of acceleration that it leaves your doubts eddying in the dust. It sounds a bit hammer if you rev it hard, but for this there’s no need as its torque is strong enough even to pull sixth gear.
Consider that its 125lb ft of torque is substantially stronger than the 101lb ft of the 1.4 petrol, and you see why this engine is entirely convincing.
So, for the most part, is the rest of the Rio package, although it will not be worrying the class best in too many dynamic areas. Its ride is fairly level but noticeably upset by sharper bumps because it’s rather stiff-legged - although this smaller-wheeled Ecodynamics Rio is better - and its electric power steering, though providing decent weighting and resistance for this breed, will not be tempting you into dawn raids over hilly twists.
The Rio’s handling is equally unremarkable, although it scores points for the silky slickness of its six-speeder, and proves fairly quiet at speed, too.
Though a 0-62mph time of 14.9sec doesn’t sound great, the 1.1’s mid-range tug more than compensates.
Should I buy one?
If the promise of spectacular fuel consumption, strong value for money, a spacious cabin, modern, inoffensive styling and a seven year, 100,000 mile warranty attract you then yes, this is a car to be shortlisted at the very least.
But at this stage fuel consumption approaching 80mpg is only a promise, as the car makers find ever-craftier ways to turn in excellent official consumption and CO2 figures. That said, we’d be surprised if the Rio Ecodynamics doesn’t turn in some pretty heart-warming economy numbers, even if they rarely begin with an eight.
If you’re a keener driver, however, then Ford’s highly polished Fiesta makes the greater entertainer, and to many eyes will be the better looker of the pair, inside and out. But the Rio now sits in the front half of the supermini pack – unthinkable, not so many seasons ago – and if emissions and economy are paramount, this version of it is a winner.
Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi ‘1’ Ecodynamics
Price: £11,895; Top speed: 98mph; 0-62mph: 14.9sec; Economy: 88.3mpg; Co2: 85g/km; Kerb weight: 1155kg; Engine type, cc: 3 cyls, 1120cc, diesel; Power: 73bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 125lb ft at 4200rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual