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Kia Rio 2 1.5 CRDi

Click to view picture gallery“Okay, so there’s a new Kia Rio just
  around the corner but that doesn
  alter the fact that the current five-
  door, five-
seat model is a good deal
  and hard to pass up

TESTED HERE IN '2' SPEC with the 109bhp 1.5-litre CRDi unit, it's the best buy in the range. The four-cylinder CRDi turbodiesel is a real goer thanks to its strong fist of torque 173lb ft from 1,900rpm. Ask it to, and it accelerates with gusto and feels quicker than its 11.5-second 0-62mph time. Maximum speed is 109mph: perfectly adequate given the UK's 70mph legal limit.

The 1.5 CRDi is happy around town where its low- and mid-range torque makes it genuinely nippy, the turboed engine pulling willingly and providing ample power for safe overtaking. On motorways it's an easy cruiser, bowling along at 70mph in top gear with a relaxed 2,300rpm showing on the rev-counter. Even then it remains responsive and will pull away, even up long hills. Take care though let it run and you'll find its natural gait is an unruffled 90mph at 3,000rpm.

“The Rios real purpose
in life is to
provide a practical,
reasonably priced set
of family wheels.
That it does, stacking
up well against cars
like the Astra, Corsa
and Fiesta
Helping to make the most of the 109bhp is a light clutch and a quick, nicely 'snicky' gearchange that a number of hot-hatches would envy. Moving up and down the 'box is easy, with smooth block changes from 5th to 3rd, 4th to 2nd and even 5th to 2nd. Work the five-speeder and you'll find the Rio peppy enough.

But that's not its mission statement. Its real purpose in life is to provide a practical, reasonably priced set of family wheels. That it does, stacking up well against cars like the Astra, Corsa and Fiesta.

Thanks to some clever packaging, Kia has fitted a 2.5-metre wheelbase into the Rio's compact 4-metre footprint to provide a spacious cabin. There's loads of headroom, substantial legroom, knee-room and shoulder space for four adults.

The rear compartment is also nice and airy and those travelling there will enjoy good views out and forwards, thanks in part to the back seats being several inches higher than those in the front. Rear passengers also benefit from backrests that recline in two steps. A low centre tunnel helps make three in the back do-able and getting in and out is easy. There's a flexi net pocket for magazines and the like on the back of each front seat backrest, and back in front you'll find a good selection of storage bins.

Boot capacity is a reasonable 270 litres fold down the 60:40 split/fold rear seats, however, and that increases to a very obliging 1,145 litres although the resulting loadbay floor is stepped over two levels where the rear seatbacks fold onto their bases. But it's not a problem.

A full-size spare wheel not just a worrisome space-saver, but a matching alloy wheel is stored under the boot floor. There are also four sturdy tie-down hooks and a flexi luggage net. The high-opening tailgate makes loading and unloading trouble-free, and when closed its large rear screen offers good visibility.

Not only is the Rio roomy inside but there's good fit and finish everywhere you look. And grey; a colour scheme echoed by the grey and black cloth upholstery that's actually very pleasant to sit on. While it's no carnival of colour, it is nonetheless pleasant and restful.

“Get behind the wheel
and drive and
you’ll find the Rio easy
to place on the road.
And it can be ‘slung

around without penalty
so long as you
re not
The seats are generously sized and comfortable (with adjustable height seatbelts) and the driver gets his or her own drop-down inner armrest that's in just the right position without cramping the traditional pull-up handbrake.

And although the tilt-adjustable steering wheel only adjusts for height, the seat height can easily be adjusted to compensate; a wide footwell and well-sited left foot rest help. Ergonomics are clean and functional; switchgear and controls logically sited and easy to use. And the air conditioning's very quick to chill.

In '2' spec, standard equipment includes AirCon, tinted glass, radio/CD with MP3 compatibility (plus USB and AUX ports and iPod cable), all-round electric windows (one-touch down for the driver), fog lamps, alloy wheels, power steering, remote locking and an immobiliser.

Also thrown in and sweetening the deal considerably, is Kia's 7-year/100,000-mile warranty (unlimited in the first three years) that includes one year Europe-wide roadside rescue through KIAssist. Standard safety kit includes six airbags, front passenger airbag cut-off switch, height-adjustable front seatbelts, active front head restraints, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stability Control with Brake-Assist and Isofix child seat top tethers and anchor fixings.

Frugal it may be but, as mentioned earlier, performance remains peppy. Get behind the wheel and drive and you'll find the Rio easy to place on the road. It can be 'slung' around without penalty so long as you're not silly and it's nice to know that out of sight there's always electronic stability control to keep thing shipshape.

The suspension deals adequately with lumps and bumps and when you're driving sensibly you'll appreciate the pleasant ride that, on motorways especially, sees miles covered fairly effortlessly.

“Drive a 1.5 CRDi and
you find yourself wanting
to tap the fuel gauge —
s nothing wrong.
The needle moves
slowly because the Rio
drinks slowly:
Officially, 62.8mpg
The Rio's power-assisted rack and pinion steering is light; requiring only three turns from lock to lock, it has a tight turning circle of less than 10 metres which helps with city jockeying and parking. As important as the steering are the brakes and the Rio's have good bite and clean stopping power.

Drive a 1.5 CRDi and you find yourself wanting to tap the fuel gauge there's nothing wrong; on the contrary, everything is very much all right. The needle moves slowly because the Rio drinks slowly. Officially, the combined consumption is a wallet-friendly 62.8mpg. The extra urban cycle figure is even better: 68.9mpg.

Tailpipe emissions are low enough (119g/km) to ensure that you pay virtually no road tax okay, 30 per year but who's complaining about that? During its week with MotorBar our Rio came in for a lot of running around town, often heavily laden, which accounts for our overall 49.8mpg test figure.

It's not the meek who will inherit the Earth, but the pragmatic. They're the ones who will identify Kia's supermini as being a good deal because when it to comes to value for money, you'll find it hard to quibble with a Rio.

Kia Rio 2 1.5 CRDi | 10,995
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 11.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 49.8mpg
Power: 109bhp | Torque: 173lb ft | CO2 119g/km