From £9,445
Improved quality and style have turned the Kia Rio into a desirable supermini

Our Verdict

Kia Rio
Kia's star is raising, can its new supermini continue that trend?

The Kia Rio offers appealing style and tangible quality as well as typical Kia brand value

  • First Drive

    2015 Kia Rio 2 1.4 review

    Facelifted Kia supermini is wholly competent, but look elsewhere in this competitive class for a more inspiring drive
  • First Drive

    Kia Rio 1.1D 1

    Three-pot diesel Rio is the lowest producer of carbon dioxide this side of a zero emissions electric car
21 August 2011

What is it?

With the fourth generation of Rio, Kia has boldly set out to steal sales from five rivals – the Renault Clio, Peugeot 207, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo and class-leading Ford Fiesta.

The Korean firm says it wants to sell 12,000 Rios in the UK next year. That’s an increase of about 30 per cent on its projected 2011 sales. It’s an ambitious battle plan, but with its latest generation of cars – the Rio is the fifth new unveiling in 18 months – Kia has made significant strides in quality and style.

What's it like?

The new Rio, penned by Kia’s design guru Peter Schreyer, is longer, wider and lower than the old version, although the styling is a touch less striking than that of its baby brother, the Picanto. The trademark ‘tiger nose’ grille is given an aggressive treatment, and the large headlamps and swooping roofline give the car a sporty look, with a hint of coupé to it.

It is a big car for the class. At 4045mm, it is 55mm longer than the Fiesta, for example, and the wheelbase of 2570mm is 70mm more than the previous Rio’s. As a result, the cabin has a roomy, spacious feel. The car’s occupants feel the benefit in terms of decent legroom and headroom in the front and rear, although boot space isn’t as generous as some rivals’ – at 288 litres, it is slightly smaller than the Fiesta’s.

The cockpit layout is logical, and the materials used are a major leap forward from the spartan environment of the previous, low-budget Rios. There are some minor quibbles: for example, the toggle switches for some aspects of the climate control aren’t particularly convincing in their operation, and the thick needles on the instrumentation aren’t always easy to read and smack of style over substance.

A generous level of standard kit is ample compensation. There are four trim grades. Our mid-range 2 includes items such as 16-inch alloys and front fog lights. Inside, this version has air-con, rear electric windows, wheel-mounted audio controls and leather trim on the wheel and gearlever.

Four engines form the basis of the range – two petrols and two diesels. At present, only petrol models are in the UK, and our 1.4 version achieves 51.4mpg (combined) and 128g/km of CO2, according to Kia’s figures. On our test route, which involved town centre, motorway and country road driving, the car returned 44.5mpg.

The engine packs a healthy 107bhp and pulls from rest to 62mph in 11.5sec. Torque isn’t as impressive, although the six-speed gearbox is fairly slick and the car makes solid progress on motorways, provided you keep your momentum up.

The light steering is welcome in town driving and a boon when parking but it isn’t so capable on faster, twisting B-roads, where it lacks feel and contributes to the sensation that the Rio doesn’t offer quite the same driving involvement as a Fiesta.

Should I buy one?

The thoroughly capable Rio has plenty of strengths in other areas that will catch the eye of prospective buyers, in particular the array of standard kit on offer for the money and the maker’s seven-year warranty.

Thought choosing a car in this sector was tough? The Rio has just made it even more difficult.

Kia Rio '2'

Price: £13,095 (plus metallic red paint £495); Top speed: 114mph; 0-62mph: 11.5sec; Economy: 51.4mpg; Co2: 128g/km; Kerb weight: 1141kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls, 1396cc, petrol; Power: 107bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 101lb ft at 4200rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
20

23 August 2011

Interesting looking little (well, not that little) car that could well be mistaken for a SEAT if the badges were covered.

It still comes back to the same point though with any Hyundai / Kia vehicle, the engines whilst clean and efficient aren't powerful or torquey enough for the vehicles.

That said, if I were in the market for this sort of car, it would definitely be worth a good hard look.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

23 August 2011

Eh....there are 2 11 plate (so last of the old shape i assume) kia rios sat not far away from me right now and they are in no way shape or form a fiesta sized car - even new fiesta sized.

Why do autocar write things like this? I don't understand how a car the size of a rio can even be compared to these things, it's got to be far closer to focus size, albeit available with small engines.

23 August 2011

[quote rodenal]Eh....there are 2 11 plate (so last of the old shape i assume) kia rios sat not far away from me right now and they are in no way shape or form a fiesta sized car - even new fiesta sized.[/quote] did you read the article? [quote autocar]It is a big car for the class. At 4045mm, it is 55mm longer than the Fiesta, for example[/quote] It's not massively bigger than a fiesta in length, and IIRC, the 207 is also another small car over 4m long

Anyways, really like this, looks neat, if on the larger side of things. Kia's styling really has matured recently.

23 August 2011

If it is over 4m long, it is not a small car, just because the manufacturers say it is does n't mean it is. A 306 was a family car and that was a similar size.

I like what Kia are doing, offering value for money, but the quality of design seems to be style over substance, if I wanted a sporty coupe I would buy one, I want a car which I can see a scooter when I look over my shoulder, would rather have a vertical tailgate ad a big side window like a Panda, Yeti or a V70 than the big blindspots that seem to be more common.

23 August 2011

Terrific looking car and actually a pretty useful size, being a touch smaller than a Golf, Focus, Astra which have all become bloated. It's a pity that the Rio isn't a bit lighter though - 107 bhp in this size of car should mean pretty decent performance.

The upcoming 3-door should be quite a stunner!

23 August 2011

[quote 230SL]If it is over 4m long, it is not a small car, just because the manufacturers say it is does n't mean it is. A 306 was a family car and that was a similar size.[/quote] But that was tiny on the inside, I know, my dad had one after us kids had grown up enough to justify a smaller car.

Besides, Kia have priced it against Fiesta sized cars, and the markets demand for extra safety etc etc all dictate that small cars have got bigger

23 August 2011

so we learned there's leather trim on the steering wheel, the climate control switch on the press car probably had coffee spilled on it, and you can make solid progress on motorways provided you keep your momentum up (er, sprechen Sie englisch?). Nothing about how quiet nor how comfortable the car is, or how reliable it might be, i.e. the sort of things that will be much higher up a Rio buyer's list of priorities than B-road prowess. There was also nothing that suggested how the car competes with the stated competitors on price. We need to look that up ourselves, do we?

On the subject of warranty, is it just me who finds Hyundai's 5-year unlimited mileage cover far more attractive than Kia's 7-year cover with restrictions in the small print? For example, the Rio's unlimited mileage cover is available for the first 3 years only, a long way short of Hyundai, and there's a 100,000 ceiling on the whole deal anyway. That might seem like a lot but it's still an artificially imposed limit that some drivers will romp past within 5 or 6 years, let alone 7.

23 August 2011

[quote ThwartedEfforts]On the subject of warranty, is it just me who finds Hyundai's 5-year unlimited mileage cover far more attractive than Kia's 7-year cover with restrictions in the small print? For example, the Rio's unlimited mileage cover is available for the first 3 years only, a long way short of Hyundai, and there's a 100,000 ceiling on the whole deal anyway. That might seem like a lot but it's still an artificially imposed limit that some drivers will romp past within 5 or 6 years, let alone 7[/quote]

Depends on which end of the market you're in. Supermini drivers generally have lower annual mileages so the 7 year warranty would be better but as you move into the family car sector with something like the fleet orientated new Hyundai i40, the 5 year unlimited mileage Hyundai warranty would be preferable. Anyway, Kia or Hyundai still trounce most of the competion many of whom are only offering 3 years.

As for the Rio, seems to be a well resolved little car - better than the Picanto which got a pretty poor write up, for driving at least, in WhatCar this month.

lrh

23 August 2011

[quote rodenal]Why do autocar write things like this? I don't understand how a car the size of a rio can even be compared to these things[/quote] Because everything has to be compared to the Ford and VW top sellers with over-blown headlines like "Rio beats Fiesta" "Fiesta smashes Polo" "Focus hits Golf" "BMW body-slams Audi"

23 August 2011

The article doesn't really say very much, but car as tested seems pretty expensive for what most people think of as a bargain basement marque.

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