Kia's ability to hone a car that rides and handles deftly enough to meet European standards is now well-established. The original Cee'd was the breakthrough. The Sportage was more successful than the Picanto at apeing that success, true. But in general the trend is still upwards. So it’s no surprise to find that the Rio rides and handles properly, too.
Of the two traits, it’s more focused towards ride, which is perhaps unsurprising. Around town, the Rio shows off some very respectable damping, and only sizeable surface imperfections present it with any problems. It’s a compromise that the Rio retains at higher speeds, riding A-roads and motorways in decent comfort, albeit with less evidence of fine damper tuning than, say, a Fiesta, and seemingly with less noise absorption and therefore a feeling of less maturity than a Corsa.
The Rio is also slightly susceptible to crosswinds. Its steering is light, perhaps too light, and responsive just off the straight-ahead. To say that it’s nervous would be stretching it too far, but it lacks the straight-line stability you’ll find in its best European rivals.
What is relatively impressive is its body control, especially given the decent ride comfort. Show the Rio a challenging set of road bumps and its suspension seldom runs out of ideas. Again, a Fiesta stays flatter and more composed, but there aren’t many cars between the Rio and the Ford at the top end of the class.
The Rio’s brakes are very impressive. The car pulls up in short order and with good pedal feel, for which you can thank what might seem like over-specified mechanicals, with ventilated discs on the front and solid rear discs.