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Kia Rio 1.4 2 5-dr

Click to view picture gallery“Kias impressive new five-door Rio,
  while technically a ‘supermini
, is
  nontheless perfectly suited to serve
  as an all-purpose car for the family
...


COMPACT ENOUGH TO FIT in all the right gaps and spaces measuring, as it does, a smidgen over four metres long the all-new Rio also serves up a lot of space internally.

Headline news about this new fourth-generation Kia Rio is that it looks and feels a whole class above its predecessor. For a start, it's longer and wider. And boldy handsome in a way that's fast become a Kia hallmark.

Noticeable by its can-do stance and fronted by Kia's trademark 'bow-tie' grille, the Rio's high-rising waistline is neatly topped-off by a pronounced coupe-like roof and a neatly chopped tail for an eye-catching look.

Swing open a front door and climb in and the 'class above' feel continues. If you've been inside the previous Rio, you'll immediately notice that this new model is bigger. The cabin itself is inviting; smartly laid-out around a deep fascai with foolproof switchgear and controls — neat touches include not one but two 12-volt power sockets, a tray for your mobile and a row of nifty 'piano-key' toggle switches.

“Rear passengers are
well catered for in this
new Rio — they can relax
in comfy seats made
better by a decent
backrest angle and loads
of knee and legroom.
And there’s enough
headroom even for near-
six-foot adults
...”
Three deep-set dials confirm that you can't beat the classic white-on-black for clarity and a central driver's information display tells you all you need to know; fabrics are of good quality and the fit and finish is easily as good as you'll find on the best of its well-dressed European and Japanese rivals (Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 207, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo).

Drivers will quickly feel at home: upholstered in smart black cloth, the seats are comfortably supportive with effective side bolstering, and the smartly-finished wheel adjusts generously for both rake and reach. The driver's seat also adjusts for height, as do the front seatbelts. Handy too is the sliding front centre armrest between the front seats which, commendably, doesn't cramp the traditional handbrake.

Needless to say, all of MotorBar's testers quickly found a comfortable driving position. Despite the low-slung roof, front headroom is more than good enough, plus there's plenty of shoulder and elbow room as well as good space around the driver's knees, shins and feet.

In addition to audio controls mounted on the leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel (with 'titanium' trim — no fake silver here!) there's a dedicated button to scroll through the driver's information displayed in the speedometer. And very convenient it is too.

Large windows mean not just an airy cabin but A1 visibility to the front and sides. The door mirrors are of a good size without appearing large and especially useful on motorways. The rear screen's shapely outline is a tad restricting and parking sensors would be welcome, although after a day or two behind the Rio's wheel reverse parking was not a problem.

Rear passengers are well catered for in this new Rio — they can relax in comfy seats made better by a decent backrest angle and loads of knee and legroom. And there's enough headroom even for near-six-foot adults.

Three can fit in and, due to the lack of a central transmission tunnel, there's plenty of room for the middle passenger's feet. Outer armrests are well-positioned and there are bottle-holders in the rear door pockets. If you're not carrying rear passengers, the three headrests slide down smoothly to sit flush on the seatback for better rearward driver visibility.

“A stand-out feature
of this new Rio is
its quietness.
The 1.4 is almost
inaudible at idle and
the first time you pull
up at the lights
you
ll think that the
Stop-Start
s shut it
down — only there’s no
Stop-Start!
Even on the move it’s
quiet
...”
The new Rio's boot is bigger and wider and offers 288 litres for personal luggage and shopping (there's a pair of bag holders); for cargo carrying duties the tailgate opens high and loading over the high-ish boot sill is easy.

Fold down the 60:40 split rear seatbacks and you'll have 923 litres to play with, made more versatile by the virtually flat floor. Under the boot floor there's a tyre repair kit and lots of additional out-of-sight storage space.

Given it's very competitive price — 13,095 — you get a very decent helping of kit. Trim levels are 1, 1 Air, 2 and 3.

The mid-range 2 spec gets you daytime running lights, AirCon, four electric windows, trip computer, power-operated and heated door mirrors with powerfold, tinted glass, cooled glovebox, automatic drive-away door locking, enhanced sounds system with MP3 compatibility, USB and Aux ports, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, multifunction steering-wheel, split/fold rear seats, rear wash/wipe, front fog lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Also included is Hill Start Assist, front, side and curtain airbags, front passenger airbag cut-off switch, ESC stability control, adaptive brakelights (the high-mounted brake light flashes vividly three times when the car stops sharply) and, for unbeatable peace of mind, Kia's seven year/100,000-mile warranty.

Beneath the bonnet of our test car was a 107bhp twin-cam 1.4-litre petrol engine mated to a great-to-use, slick-shifting six-speed manual 'box. While an auto transmission is optional, the manual 'box is such a lovely change-artist that, helped by a light clutch, city driving is undemanding enough to stick with the manual.

A stand-out feature of this new Rio is its quietness. The 1.4 is almost inaudible at idle and the first time you pull up at the lights you'll think that Stop-Start's shut it down — only there's no Stop-Start! Even on the move it's quiet, scoring best-in-class for noise levels.

Its 107bhp is enough to get the Rio off the line and past 60mph in a perfectly okay 11.1 seconds. Maximum torque comes on tap at 4,200rpm, giving you 101lb ft to play with while the continuously variable valve timing keeps the 'grunt' coming evenly — even fifth proved to be unexpectedly flexible around country lanes. At the legal limit in sixth gear you'll only see 3K on the rev-counter but you wouldn't know it; go faster and it still feels much more refined and at ease than many other small cars. Top speed is 113mph.

“What’s nice is that
driving anywhere
is a pretty stress-free
affair.
On twisty roads the Rio
feels reassuringly safe
and predictable — a
quality enhanced by the
decent body control.
And chuckable it
definitely is!
Officially, this 1.4-litre Rio is good for 51.4mpg in the combined cycle. Subjected to a lot of town driving, our week-long test figure was 38.7mpg. Still a good real-world result.

What's nice is that driving anywhere is a pretty stress-free affair. On twisty roads the Rio feels reassuringly safe and predictable — a quality enhanced by the decent body control. And chuckable it definitely is!

The weighting from the electric power steering is direct and proved to be non-tiring around town and fine at speed. And there's good feel from the Rio's brakes (ventilated discs at the front) — they do a fine job of pulling you up without any drama; which is exactly as it should be.

As well as back roads, the Rio rides town tarmac and motorways with a controlled and comfortable demeanour, thanks to some well-honed suspension and damping (and generously-sidewalled tyres). Combined with its quietness and large-car feel, its pleasing road manners make long journeys easy to undertake for both the driver and any passengers.

Thanks to its multitasking abilities, this new Rio has a lot of 'grande' about it as well as being very good value — prices range from 10,595 to 14,895. For many customers the 'buy now' decision will be made at that point. However, those who think from the heart and not just from the pocket will also appreciate it for its big-car feel, refined air and classy style. — MotorBar

Kia Rio 1.4 2 5-dr | 13,095
Maximum speed: 113mph | 0-60mph: 11.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 38.7mpg
Power: 107bhp | Torque: 101lb ft | CO2 128g/km