The Kia Rio, one imagines, must have fulfilled its maker’s intentions for it rather neatly.

It’s an even more practical, parsimonious and mature prospect than ever, and you could hardly ask for a more resolutely worthy, servile or grown-up supermini.

More comfortable and more grown-up but not any more fun

Yet for all its functional virtue, the Rio remains a car that is made to look one-dimensional by the opposition.

And that’s because while it succeeds in its own fairly narrow lane, the Ford FiestaVolkswagen Polo and Renault Clio all go further and do better in one way or another, while in every way doing so in a more well-rounded and fulfilling manner.

Consequently, while none of those rivals can claim to accommodate a rear passenger quite as easily, all of them drive in a way better suited to indulging either the enthusiasm or the comfort-bias of their owner.

For us, the surprise of driver engagement is still what best distinguishes a small, affordable supermini. This Kia, although undoubtedly improved, still doesn’t offer enough of it to qualify as a true great, and doesn't quite count as a sophisticate or style champion yet either.

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