Kia's new Rio here soon; prices start at €16,000
First drive in Lisbon: KIA Rio
KIA's new 5dr Rio supermini is due here within weeks. It will cost around €16,000 - an increase of €500 or so - for the 1.2-litre petrol. Diesels start at €18,000 for the 1.4-litre 77bhp version (up €1,100).
It's a brighter, roomier car coming into a market where people's loyalty to big names such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio is legendary.
The Rio is aimed at all generations but with renewed focus on attracting young and female buyers. KIA see 'potential' for substantial growth.
As well as looking brighter, it felt bigger (three-rear seatbelts, good headroom) with the cabin disproportionately benefitting from the relatively small increase in wheelbase (10mm). The car is only 15mm longer overall, is lower than, and of similar width to, the current one, but is better packaged for space. Even the boot (two-level) goes from 288 to 325 litres - putting it up to those rivals.
Other plus points come by way of having a stiffer bodyshell.
They're putting emphasis on agility for around-town driving and we had fun on special obstacle courses on that front. But, on the road, our rear-seat passengers felt the jarring brunt of some poor surfaces, in contrast with those of us in the front.
As well as the 1.2-lite turbo petrol (84bhp, 4.8l/100km, 106g/km, €190 road tax) and less powerful diesel (77bhp, 92g/km) there is a 90bhp 1.4-litre diesel (3.8l/100km, 98g/km, €180 road tax). Rio diesel sales are high compared with the segment average. A 1-litre 3cyl turbo petrol 5spd (4.5l/100km, 102g/km, €190) which is already in the cee'd will arrive later and may balance matters further. Petrols have 5spd gearboxes; the diesels have 6spd. Final trim levels (LX, EX, Titanium and a special ADAS Safety pack version for 5-star EuroNCAP purposes) have to be fully decided on but an EX spec model is your most likely buy.
I found the 1.2-litre petrol sluggish and slow to respond. But models with that engine will be less expensive (€1,200/€1,500) than those with the really bright-spark 1-litre turbo. We liked the (90bhp) diesel too. But the question is: who needs performance (or diesel) for tipping around town? Think about that.
EX trim (€2,000 more than LX) will include 16ins alloys, air con, cruise control, fogs, rear parking sensor, LEDs but will not have the full 7ins touchscreen (Apple Car Play, Android Auto) or Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian recognition. To get those, you have to go for top-trim Platinum or the Safety pack model. AEB uses radar and camera to detect objects and pedestrians and will apply the brakes automatically if you don't. We tried it. Once we nudged a 'dummy' figure; other times it worked perfectly.
Despite my earlier 'back-seat' criticism they have done a good job in keeping exterior noise down. And there were lots of places to hold stuff: an open double tray stores mobile devices; there bottle holders in every door (1.5-litre in the front; 0.5-litre rear). And, a first in the segment they say, there is a USB charger in the rear. On such apparently minor matters, sometimes, are big buying decisions swayed.
The Rio, now in its fourth generation, is not a name that necessarily rolls quickly off the tongue when supermini shortlists are mentioned.
Without being spectacular in any department, this new one has enough potential to get on to more of those lists.