Sunday 4 December 2016

So how's the new Rio? Grand

Published 29/01/2012 | 06:00

KIARIO
SUPERMINI
RATING 86/100
KIARIO SUPERMINI RATING 86/100

This week's review car is an award-winning supermini with a seven-year warranty. That says a lot about it. In response to quite a number of queries, I'd like to expand a little on what the warranty means because there are a few urban myths out there.

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The Kia Rio is an accomplished motor now, light years ahead of the old one (which sold well nonetheless). For some strange reason I think it does not nearly look as well in silver as it does in red. It is just one of these things with me.

But that does not take away from the fact that it is a smart looking hatchback with a decent spread of room (well up on the old one) and equipment (a serious spread of stuff). For a car of its size, it has a distinct ability to keep out the rougher parts of driving without making the experience feel like you are wrapped in a frozen ball of cotton wool.

That is a real achievement for a small car.

The only area I really complained about was the seats. Oh yes, I'd quibble big time about them. They say if your waist is above 37 inches you are in trouble with the ould weight.

Well, for the record I'm 37 inches (a loose 38) and, yes, I could do with losing a few pounds (I have to stop eating so many milk-chocolate biscuits and walk a little). But I don't think I've reached the stage where normal seats pinch my bum. They did in this.

The flanges on the side of the seat in the EX version I had did the damage, I think. I can think of nicer ways to get my bottom pinched.

Anyway I'm sure it won't bother you there; you are all so mad fit these days. You will enjoy the amount of room in the cabin.

And the level of equipment is, I think, unmatched, certainly not outstripped, in this segment. Now this brings with it an important distinction. You see, the Kia costs a bit more than the likes of the Toyota Yaris -- there's one for the books.

However, that doesn't necessarily make it more expensive as such. Kia argues, and does so volubly, that the equipment levels are so high that rivals would cost a lot more if they had them.

And it appears people do want more spec. Kia expects more to buy the higher-trim EX model, which is costlier than the entry version.

Regardless of all that, there are important basics on which the Rio is built. They have underpinned it with a fine chassis, which provides a good touch to the driving. And they have used decent plastics and materials throughout the cabin. These are important. They feel and look right. It is so easy even for a good car to feel really dowdy when you are surrounded by swathes of grey plastic.

No sense of cheap'n'cheerful; no signs of cutting corners or costs here.

So there you are. I'd rate it as nearly the best in its class. I put the Ford Fiesta above it because the Rio's engine felt underpowered at times -- no big deal in urban driving; noticeable on longer journeys.

And then there is the seven-year /150,000km warranty. What does that mean, though?

First off, the car leaves the factory with the warranty. It is not something that is added on or bought via a third party. In Kia's case it is a manufacturer's warranty. That means if you get major engine, gearbox, electrics, transmission, or chassis trouble etc -- and you have not contributed to it by sheer neglect or whatever -- they'll fix it for you so long as you have not passed the seven-year or 150,000km mark.

And if you buy the Rio from someone second-hand and something goes wrong within the warranty framework, they'll fix it for you. There is a huge peace of mind there.

However, and this is important, not every little bit and piece gets the seven years.

The paintwork (in case of a flaw) is covered for five years. The audio system is covered for 36 months, the batteries for two years. Not covered, and I think it is only reasonable, is normal 'wear and tear' on items such as brake linings and clutch. Important to know that.

Seriously competitive car this. Good job.

ecunningham@independent.ie

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