Handling is a similar story. The steering is light and quick enough to suit about-town wheel twirling, and it weights up at higher speeds to deliver a reasonably confident front end. For all that, there isn’t any of the vim and vigour that the aforementioned competitors offer. So as long as you’re just after a stable, inoffensive drive, the Kia does the job.
Ride comfort is a bit disappointing. It’s adequate most of the time, but on the 17in wheels of our First Edition test car, you get a rather lumpier ride than you might expect around town, albeit with a soft-edged initial bump absorption.
The cabin is a strong point in the Rio. Sure, some of the plastics on the door cards and around the window switches feel cheap, but in this class, that’s to be expected, and generally the variety of textures look and feel pretty good.
The 7.0in colour touchscreen and nav system in our car were great: user-friendly and with all the media functions you’d want, including Apple CarPlay, although you only get this on '3'-trim cars and up, in which form the Rio is more expensive than many of its rivals.
Impressively, two average-sized adults can settle comfortably in the back, even behind a taller driver, and the boot is a really good size, albeit with a huge drop to the boot floor over the load lip.
Should I buy one?
Sadly, the only trim you can get this engine with is the limited-run First Edition, which you’d be a bit mad to buy, given the price, even taking into account the full-fat media system, heated leatherette seats and steering wheel and other luxury car features.
We had a brief spin in the 99bhp, five-speed Rio, which is much cheaper and still generously equipped in '2' or '3' trim and feels much the same to drive in most situations. The problem is, even at that more moderate point in the Rio range, the Skoda Fabia stacks up just as well financially – if not quite a bit better if you want sat-nav – while also being better to drive and just as roomy inside. Meanwhile, the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta are much more fun, if not as practical.
Which brings us back to the fact that the Rio is fit for purpose and entirely inoffensive, but – except for the tempting seven-year warranty - it’s also outclassed on some crucial fronts.
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDI First Edition
Location Buckinghamshire; On sale Now; Price £17,445; Engine 3 cyl, 998cc, turbo, petrol; Power 118bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 126lb ft at 1500-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1160kg; 0-60mph 9.8sec; Top speed 118mph; Economy 60.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 107g/km, 20%; Rivals Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta