Suspension is now well-sorted for British roads
Cabin improved and includes standard air-con and CD player
We've sampled Kia’s new hatch before, but this is our first taste of the car on UK roads and, more importantly, with European specification suspension.
The pre-production cars we experienced last month in France were fitted with suspension set for Korean roads where potholes are like craters. The resulting soft suspension and under-damping left the Rio unsettled at speed; a weakness in what is otherwise a surprisingly good car.
In tuning the car for European roads Kia’s engineers have stiffened the springs and upped the damping rates to the extend that at times the Rio borders on the firm. It stops short of uncomfortable, however, and demonstrates the composure needed to keep the body under control over more undulating roads.
As well as tweaking the suspension, Kia has finalised UK pricing. With only two engine variants and two spec levels it was always going to be simple, but Kia has gone a step further and priced both the diesel and petrol versions identically. So whichever engine you opt for – and we’d recommend the diesel – prices start at £7995 for the GS and rise a grand for the better-equipped LX. Both models get air-conditioning, a CD player and two airbags, but the LX also gets larger wheels, side and curtain airbags and a smarter interior.
With the ride quality sorted, the Kia makes for an attractive budget alternative. Kia may still be marketing the Rio on price, but don’t confuse this with a compromised product. The Rio offers a balanced chassis, strong engine, useable space, and a cleanly designed interior at an affordable price. In short, excellent value for money.