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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia Rio 1.4 MPi ‘2’

Click to view picture gallery“On the world stage Kias Rio is a
  big-hitting best-seller. In the UK it
  outsells Nissan
s bold new Micra
  and Mazda
s pert Mazda2. So just
  how good is Kia
s supermini?”


LOOKS-WISE THE LATEST Rio wears a suit of a sharper cut than the previous three generations
even the trademark 'tiger nose' grille has slimmed down to match the smoother surfacing. The Rio's also a smidgen longer (actually less than one inch but then every little helps!) which lets it continue to offer buyers plenty of what matters most inner space.

Under the revamped metalwork there's an all-new platform while under-bonnet choices are now all petrol: a turboed 1.0-litre three-pot with 99bhp or 118bhp; a 1.25-litre that puts out 83bhp; and a multi-point injected 1.4 that makes 98bhp. Diesel is off the menu but with these petrol-drinkers offering between 45 and 49mpg in the combined cycle, that's no real downer.

The Rio's cabin is smart and well finished, with shapely and supportive chairs upholstered in premium black cloth. The bolstering is effective and adds to the comfort on longer journeys; and the driver's seat adjusts for height and, even ratcheted up high, there's headroom aplenty as well as stretch-out space for your front passenger.

The Rio’s 1.4-litre
engine is willing to sing
for its supper (all the
way to the redline if
you insist) but it’s also
nicely laid-back in a
strong-but-silent sort of
way — enough that
it doesn’t complain if you
forget to change up or
down on time.
Not that cog-swapping
is any hardship because
the six-speed manual
gearbox has a clean
change action...”
Likewise, the good-to-grip leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel has plenty of adjustability, so whatever your arm and leg sizes setting that perfect driving position takes but a jiffy. Drivers will also appreciate the easily-used on-the-move A/C knobs and switches for controlling the temperature and blower, as well as the trad-style pull-up handbrake. All controls, and the nicely-damped switchgear, are well placed and can be reached on the go without a stretch.

Visibility is good courtesy of relatively slim screen pillars so no surprises = front or side — in the hurly-burly of rush-hour town traffic. Headrests that park low on the rear backrests when not in use along with a fairly generous rear screen keep you well aware of what's coming up behind, and both reversing and parking are made simpler by a rearview camera system with dynamic guidelines and reversing sensors.

Supermini it may be but there's nothing small about the Rio's in-cabin storage: the door bins are on the big size and will take 1.5-litre bottles with room to spare while the centre console between the front seats houses siamesed dual-use cupholders along with a storage box capped by a sliding armrest, an open tray (it makes the perfect 'bed' for your smartphone), and a drop-down overhead sunglasses case unsure there's a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Comms are dependent on which trim level you go for — the second level '2' comes with a 'floating' crystal-clear seven-inch touchscreen. Bluetooth with music streaming, a DAB tuner, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both with voice recognition) are all present and correct, so using your mobile's navigation functions is easily done. However, if you prefer your SatNav built-in then you'll want to upgrade to the '3' trim to secure full TomTom Live navigation features. A nice touch — there are USB charging ports in the back as well as the front so mobiles can be charged from any seat. Ahead of the driver and set between two white-on-black analogue dials is a digital driver's information display.

Standard-fit kit on even the lesser trim grade models give you all that you really need: in addition to items mentioned elsewhere such as a seven-inch infotainment screen, essential comms features and a rear parking camera, this includes AirCon, front and rear electric windows (the driver's has one-shot auto up/down op), powerfolding heated door mirrors, auto lights, multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear parking sensors, cruise control and speed limiter, tinted glass, and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels.

Oddly, you’ll often find
that you’re better off with
a big small car than a
small big car. The four-
metre long Rio, a big car
in its class, proves this
perfectly — travelling in
its airy rear cabin is a
pleasant experience even
for taller passengers.
Backrest angles are
relaxing and although
you sit about six inches
higher than those up
front, headroom and leg
room are good and better
than that offered by
many of the Rio’s
rivals...”
Safety tech and assists include the all-important automatic emergency city braking — Kia's Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Forward Collision Warning advanced driver assistance systems are also pedestrian savvy. Also included is Lane Keep Assist that warns you if you're about to stray from your lane without the indicators having been activated (and, if you like to switch it on, it will 'push-back' on the steering wheel rim to physically prompt you whenever you need to steer back into your lane).

There's also a new Cornering Brake Control system to counter loss of traction when braking in tight curves, and another new feature — Straight Line Stability — to keep your braking straight and true. The Rio's full five-star EuroNCAP safety rating is something to prize while traction and stability control, hill-start assist, and a full suite of six airbags (front, side and curtain) are also standard-fit. Lighting-wise there are bi-function projection headlights with LED daytime running lights, and cornering lights as well as height-adjustable front belts, automatic drive-away door locking, and tyre pressure monitoring.

Oddly, you'll often find that you're better off with a big small car than a small big car. The four-metre long Rio, a big car in its class, proves this perfectly — travelling in its airy rear cabin is a pleasant experience even for taller passengers. Backrest angles are relaxing and although you sit about six inches higher than those up front, headroom and leg room are good and better than that offered by many of the Rio's rivals. There's room for knees and foot room is boosted by a very low centre tunnel. Three grown-ups side-by-side is manageable; the more likely human cargo of teens and young-uns will do just fine. And those in the back will also be glad of the bottle-holding door pockets, USB charger port, storage pocket on the front passenger seatback, while those with youngsters will no doubt make good use of the Isofix child seat fixtures.

Not surprisingly, given its strong appeal to urban car-users, Kia has ensured that the Rio's character errs on the side of comfort. City blacktop is ridden over with as much gentleness as can be managed and, helped by 185 section tyres with 65-profile sidewalls (as opposed to big-wheeled low-pro 40-section rubber) all but the meanest tarmac is seen rather than felt. Whizzing along at the legal limit on motorways and dual carriageways the ride is more hushed than you might expect from a supermini, with the sound levels kept down at a relaxing minimum. Overall there's a strong sense that Kia's NHV engineers have gone that extra mile to make sure you and your passengers remain unruffled on all your journeys.

This latest fourth-gen Rio comes with a substantially stiffer bodyshell and sits atop a new platform using an independent MacPherson strut front suspension set-up with a torsion beam axle bringing up the rear — all re-tuned for improved driveability. Throw in fail-safe front-drive predictability and you have a recipe for reassuring composure — something that's particularly significant for many supermini buyers.

That’s not to say that
you can’t give the Rio
some welly — the
steering is quick and
town-friendly-light but
weights-up some as the
numbers rise so,
should the mood take
you, you can happily
punch the Rio through a
bend. Do so and it
maintains a level stance
while on the straights
it tracks reassuringly
true. All-in-all it’s an
invitingly easy car to just
dive in and drive...”
That's not to say that you can't give the Rio some welly — the steering is quick and town-friendly-light but weights-up some as the numbers rise so, should the mood take you, you can happily punch the Rio through a bend. Do so and it maintains a level stance while on the straights it tracks reassuringly true. All-in-all it's an invitingly easy car to just dive in and drive. Exactly what most people want.

The Rio's 1.4 multi-point injected four-cylinder engine is willing to sing for its supper (all the way to the redline if you insist) but it's also nicely laid-back in a strong-but-silent sort of way — enough that it doesn't complain if you forget to change up or down on time. Not that cog-swapping is any hardship because the six-speed manual gearbox has a clean change action. The top speed is more than enough for UK motorways at 109mph; the benchmark 0-60mph acceleration takes 11.8 seconds.

Kia's Intelligent Stop & Go fuel-saving stop/start system is standard-fit and the official combined cycle figure is 46.3mpg — and it's accurate: over a pretty hard-driven week we recorded 46.2mpg and often saw the sunny side of 50mpg. Real-world owners should have no trouble matching, or even bettering, our results. More good news — the Rio's near-ten-gallon (45 litres) fuel tank is a boon and minimises the number of forecourt visits courtesy of a potential 450-mile range on a single tank of unleaded.

Plenty of passenger room as well as a sizeable amount of regular-shaped boot space in a hatchback is not often a given — you're more likely to end up with one at the expense of the other. Not so with the Rio whose accommodating cabin is backed-up by an equally accommodating 325-litre boot — one of the biggest in its class. For cargo duty, the rear seatbacks, split in the standard 60:40 configuration, can be folded down — they sit flat — to provide a 980-litre loadbay.

As you'd expect, there are bag hooks and tie-down eyes to keep everything shipshape. While there is a deep-ish drop down from the loading lip to the boot floor, and a short step-up from the boot floor to the folded-down rear seatbacks in full cargo mode, neither is a problem. A rising parcel shelf covers the boot rather than a rollerblind, which make for quick access with no faffing. If you prefer, your cargo can be hauled along behind — the 1.4 Rio can tow a braked 1,000kg.

This latest Rio from Kia does everything it says on the box; it's easy to jump into and drive (with room for your friends, kids or dogs, whichever you have in tow at any given moment). It's also well kitted-out with the essentials, won't break the bank and, as with every other Kia, comes with the brand's industry-leading warranty for seven years' of motoring peace of mind. ~ MotorBar
.
Kia Rio 1.4 MPi '2' | 15,275
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-60mph: 11.8 seconds | Test Average: 46.2mpg
Power: 98bhp | Torque: 98lb ft | CO2: 131g/km

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