The Kia Rio is now one of the biggest-selling global models of the world’s third-largest car-making group.
Last year, at the tail end of its life cycle, the outgoing version of the Rio registered sales of just under 450,000 units.
However, the car has a much greater profile elsewhere in the world than it has here in Europe, where, despite consistent sales growth, it has yet to break into the top 10 best-selling cars in the supermini class.
You don’t come by a top-10 place in the European supermini sales charts easily, of course.
In order to earn one, the Rio needs to displace a more established European-built small cars, such as the Seat Ibiza, Citroën C3, Fiat Punto or Skoda Fabia (it already sells better than the Mazda 2, Honda Jazz and Nissan Micra).
With that in mind, slowly but surely over the past couple of revisions and not at all by coincidence, the Rio has begun to feel more and more like a small car tailored to European tastes – and this latest version develops that trend.
Now in its fourth model generation, this new Rio is marginally longer and more squat than the outgoing one, and was designed by a team at Kia’s design centre in Germany charged with the idea of making it look more cleanly and sharply cut, and more smoothly surfaced, than it used to.
Under the bonnet, the car gets a new, very Europe-focused downsized 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot petrol engine.
Inside the cabin there’s a new ergonomic approach to the fascia design and a focus on new connectivity features.
And, perhaps most interesting of all, there’s even a new focus on dynamic sophistication for the Rio. Kia has trumpeted the efforts of its chassis engineers in introducing more agile handling, crisper steering, greater driver appeal and a more compliant ride.
We ran the road test ruler over the car, fitted with its new 99bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo triple engine, to find out if that top-10 sales rank beckons.