The new Kia Rio has Euro-style, is miserly with fuel and you’ll want to keep it for seven years because of its insanely long warranty. Tony Sarno reports.
After testing BMWs, Land Rovers and Mustangs in the last few issues, I didn’t really know what to expect when I hopped into a Kia Rio (Si model) for our new “practical car for the people” review. Would the Rio showcase the big leaps that Kia has made in recent years or turn out to be another grocery transporter like the previous models?
The Rio is Kia’s bestselling car and the 2017 edition (offered in S, Si and SLi versions) is designed to make the brand more competitive in a class that includes standouts such as the Mazda 2 and Volkswagen Polo.
The mid-range model I tested comes with a $21,490 price tag. First impressions were that the five-door hatchback’s straight lines and smooth surfaces, longer wheelbase and shorter rear overhang make it look more European than South Korean. The front’s “tiger” grille, the car’s pleasing proportions and its squat stance reminds you (from a distance at least) of a Citroën or even an Audi A1. So, in terms of improved design, the new Rio passes with flying colours.
Inside, I was also pleasantly surprised by the generous space for the front passengers and the good ergonomics of the figure-hugging seats. While others have found fault with the monochrome dash and widespread use of plastics in the cabin, to me it came across as unpretentious.
In the areas that matter in today’s smartphone age (particularly to its Millennial buyers) the Rio delivers. The big 7-inch colour touchscreen runs Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which means you can use phone apps directly from the screen. The touchscreen also has built in satellite navigation and shows video from a reversing camera.
In my week of testing, the Rio’s only flat spot was, literally, on Sydney’s hectic freeways. Its 1.4 litre engine and four-speed auto transmission had me constantly keeping the accelerator pedal flat to the floor (and engine revs near its loud 7,000 RPM red line) in order to overtake, merge into faster moving traffic and climb hills.
But the car’s performance in the city is adequate, and its shape and good visibility make parking it a pleasure.
The bottom line is that the Kia Rio is an affordable, good-looking and spacious runabout with great fuel consumption (claimed 6.2L/100km) and good safety features. With its 7-year warranty the Rio is the epitome of no-hassle motoring. You won’t have to worry about anything going wrong with it until 2024!