Kia’s Rio was previously neither one thing or another: the size of a small family car, yet priced like a supermini, and pitched as neither. Which made it almost the same as the Cerato, in fact, and neither were very good.
No such confusion with the new Rio; it’s a supermini, pure and simple. Granted, it’s wider and taller than the old model, and with a longer wheelbase too, but also 250mm shorter, at 3,990mm.
That’s still big for the class, so the Rio still offers more room than most other superminis, and will inevitably be priced at less than most of them, true to Kia’s previous form - the automotive equivalent of Matalan or EasyJet: offering more for less. So that’s the positioning sorted. This time, is the car any good?
Actually, it’s not bad. There are still too few soft-touch plastics inside, but the Rio’s cabin is neatly designed, functional and spacious. Adults fit easily in the back and the boot’s respectable, at 270-litres with the seats up (770 with them down).
There’s a 1.4-litre, 96bhp petrol motor or a 1.5-litre, 108bhp turbodiesel, the latter being preferable from behind the wheel. It’s quiet at idle, has real urge from less than 2,000rpm and rarely becomes intrusive. The 1.4 requires more work, more often, and sounds strained at high revs.
Dynamically it’s a mixed bag too. Noise is well suppressed and the ride compliant around town, It’s a real shame then that matters become comically unsettled on country roads; although we’re told the spring and damper rates may change before launch. Let’s hope so - they’re the weakest link in an otherwise decent package.