Currently reading: Kia Rio to exit UK and mainland Europe, no replacement expected
Ford Fiesta rival is the latest supermini to bow out as buyers flock to crossovers

The Kia Rio supermini will exit the UK market later this year - and it is not due to receive a direct replacement. 

The European-spec Rio, which is produced at Kia’s Sohari factory in South Korea, will no longer be shipped to the UK nor other European markets, with the higher-riding (but closely related) Kia Stonic crossover lined up to serve as an alternative for buyers in the supermini segment.

Kia's Ford Fiesta rival is currently in its fourth generation and 148,000 examples have been delivered to customers since it first went on sale in 2001. It is currently available from £16,150 with a choice of 1.2-litre petrol and 1.0-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid engines. However, new cars are available from dealer stock only, as Kia winds down European deliveries.

The supermini has struggled in European sales charts in recent years, with 32,506 Rios sold in 2022, representing a 9% drop on 2021 figures, according to Jato Dynamics. Its direct rival, the Vauxhall Corsa, sold 164,119 units in the same period. 

Meanwhile, UK sales figures seen by Autocar show that the Rio accounted for just 3800 of the 90,000-plus cars Kia sold here in 2021 - the most recent full year for which figures are available. It is not expected to have contributed significantly to Kia’s UK record year in 2022, when the brand sold more than 100,000 cars for the first time, 6076 of which were Stonics.

The Korean manufacturer, which turns 80 next year, suggested that the continued trend towards compact crossovers resulted in a drop in demand for the low-slung Rio. 

The firm also said: “Aside from Rio development, Kia remains fully committed to the 'small car' A- and B-segments.” Its current A-segment car is the Toyota Aygo X-rivalling Kia Picanto, which accounted for 10% of the company's overall UK sales in 2022 and was the UK’s third best-selling A-segment car that year.

Kia would not give a specific date for the end of Rio production but it is not expected to import any more examples to the UK. 

The Rio is one of several superminis retiring in Europe as tighter emissions rules take hold and buyers migrate to taller SUVs with similar footprints. The Ford Fiesta’s demise is the headline of 2023, with the Ford Puma poised to take its place as the entry point into the Ford line-up. 

The future of the B-segment Volkswagen Polo has also been brought into question, owing to Euro 7 emissions rules adding as much as €5000 (£4445) to the cost of producing a small car, according to VW boss Thomas Schäfer.

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Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Apprentice

Jonathan is an editorial apprentice working with Autocar. He has held this position since September 2022, having graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Geography and Business & Management before moving to London to pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, helping with social media and building his experience overall.

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auckryn522 9 February 2023

Ford axing the Fiesta, Kia now axing the Rio effectively hands over a lot of sales to MG with the MG3 (whenever it becomes electrified), the GWM Ora Funky Cat (although at £32k it's expensive for a supermini), Mazda with the Mazda 2 and Toyota (if they introduce an electric Yaris replacement).

Ford should have kept the Fiesta going, raised the ground clearance, sold it as a "crossover hatch" with more traditional styling, and it would have kept the name alive. Yes, like the Dacia Sandero Stepway. Yes, I know they had the Fiesta Active... but this is about keeping the name going, it's a brand name. Sure, it's not a full crossover, but it'd keep the older audience who don't want a fully SUV-like crossover happy.

Vauxhall/PSA at least has the sense to keep the Corsa going... not a bad little car.

Overdrive 9 February 2023

Manufacturers are not cancelling superminis because they are not selling well, they are (Corsa is the best selling car in the country currently). They are cancelling them because they've figured out they can make more money with the bloated crossovers and SUVs.

Case in point, Ford Fiesta was the UK's best selling car as recently as 2020, but Ford is pulling the plug on it and focusing on SUVs, which it can sell those at higher prices.

This is providing a perfect opportunity for the Chinese makes in particular, to jump into the lower end of the market, which so many of the traditional makers are foolishly abandoning.

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