Kia takes on the big names by putting brio in the Rio
Sometimes the Irish unveiling of a new car can be quite revealing -- as much about buyers' preferences, trends etc as about the car itself.
At this stage we know a lot about Kia's new supermini the Rio. I think it is fair to say the company can take some satisfaction from the exposure it has garnered over the past few months.
This was, on my first acquaintance with it at the weekend, a sharply designed and sprightly driving competitor for the likes of the new Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa, Nissan Micra, Renault Clio and, of course, the Ford Fiesta, to mention just a few.
My advice is to look at the red or black versions -- it doesn't look nearly as well in silver/grey.
So what do buyers of a car like this want these days?
Well, not too many diesels anyway, judging by the figures proffered us.
The vast majority of purchases are petrol. Why? Mostly because they are less expensive to buy and people put up far fewer kilometres (around 8,000 to 10,000) than owners of larger family/fleet motors where diesel is king.
In this case, equipment is king with the marque here being quite energetic in targeting the Toyota Yaris on equipment/price.
Kia claims its package is far more competitive when equipment such as air con, front fogs, electric windows, alloys etc -- not to mention its much vaunted seven-year-warranty -- is taken into account.
Standard equipment also includes Hill Start, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, electric/ folding mirrors as well as six airbags, ESC and emergency stop signal.
So Kia decided it would go with a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel -- both keep road tax at €104. In a brief drive the petrol was quite lively.
This is the third generation Rio and it is quite a leap ahead of the previous two.
It goes on sale on October 26 with prices starting at €15,295 for entry level LX. However, Kia expects the EX at €16,495 to be by far the biggest seller as people are spending more on better equipped cars.
Why? It's usually with a view to getting a decent trade-in price as well as the extra bit of kit and comfort. The 1.4-litre diesel EX costs €17,895.
The supermini segment accounts for 20pc of the overall market but exactly what that market will be remains to be seen next year with predictions of up to 80,000 new cars being purchased regarded as about as good as it will get.