Sunday 19 November 2017

Young and female? Kia want you to take the road to Rio

KIA's new Rio
KIA's new Rio
The cabin and dash is smart
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

It isn't often a car feels better on Irish roads than it does on those abroad.

But in the case of KIA's new Rio it seemed to apply over two, admittedly short, stints at its Irish unveiling on Monday.

If that turns out to be the case over longer, more detailed, drives to come, then the car will have gone up a notch in my estimation. Because it wasn't great before.

As I reported previously, the Rio was only okay on handling and ride at the international launch but I suspect tyres there and here played a part in my reappraisal.

Which just goes to show how important those oft-forgotten little round rubbery things can be.

Anyway, I did think the car felt better and that work on the suspension got a better chance to show the improvement.

I drove both the 1.2-litre petrol (which is merely moderate as an engine) and the 1.4-litre diesel (which is a fine little powerplant that comes with two different outputs).

I'm not sure all this talk about performance means much to buyers of cars like this, but there is something about a lively little supermini that can set a car apart - like the Ford Fiesta.

And that is all the more relevant, I suppose, when the likes of the Rio is most pointedly aimed at younger - female - buyers.

Its cabin and dash are not exactly what you'd deem mad trendy or expressly youthful either but they are as smart as the majority of their rivals.

Some have criticised the Rio for its uninspiring looks but I think they represent quite a decent attempt at the smart/sturdy mix people seems to go for. I think overall it's a good take on what a modern small car needs to be.

This size of car is important - the supermini segment is the third biggest-selling on the market.

And the Rio is pitched against a long, long list of rivals that spring easily to mind: the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Micra (proving how a car can go from fuddy-duddy looks to real head-turner) and so on.

At the same time, KIA concede that customers are buying bigger cars - and SUVs I'm sure. That makes it essential for the Rio and its ilk to appeal not just on looks but on space and practicality. I reckon it fares well enough on those fronts.

Prices for the new car start from €15,950 and here's an idea of what is powering it - and what you'll pay for different models.

There is the 1.2-litre (85hp, 109g/km, €190 road tax) petrol I mentioned, the two 1.4-litre diesels (77hp, 92g/km, €180 road tax; and 90hp, 98g/km, €180 road tax). I've driven the 100hp 1-litre turbo petrol and it's a sweet engine but it's not due until later in the year.

The entry-level L trim (petrol) costs €15,950 but most people will go for the EX (at €18,150) .

The version with the safety pack, called the EX ADAS (includes AEB), costs €19,450 while the range-topping Platinum is priced from €20,450 (sat nav and Android Auto).

The two diesels include the 77hp LX (€17,750) and the 90hp EXE (€19,950).

Indo Motoring

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