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MotorBar
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi ‘2’ DCT
Click to view picture gallery“Real people driving in the real world
  have clearly defined requirements
  for their cars: topping their lists will
  be
space and economy. That, and
  more, they
ll find in one of Kias latest
  five-door hatchback Rio models

  with the added bonus of affordable
  pricing and the brand
s class-leading
  seven-year warranty...”


THE LATEST fourth-gen Rio models feature a range of enhancements including an updated exterior and interior design with 'big car' safety and infotainment tech and, for manual transmission models, a clever 'clutch-by-wire' transmission to boost fuel economy (this allows the Rio to automatically coast without you having to depress the clutch). However, go for the automatic — a seven-speed dual-clutch autobox — mated to the sassy 998cc T-GDi version and you'll consistently see 50+ to the gallon.

Officially the combined figure is 52.3mpg with 61.4 'touring' but a week's hard driving around Devon's twisty lanes saw us better the official numbers when we recorded a genuine combined 53.7mpg. Not bad at all and none of that worrying range anxiety (the 45-litre tank is good for a safe 450 miles).

Select the Sport driving
mode (the alternatives
are Eco and Standard)
and you’ll find the Rio
to be a real cracker,
pulling keenly all the way
to the red-line with a
signature three-pot
warble. Darting around
Devon
s fiendishly twisty
rollercoaster back roads,
the eager-to-please
three-pot-powered Rio
slaps a smile on your
face every time it spurts
up a steep winding hill...”
But just because you want to be sensible doesn't mean you have to settle for second best the Rio's new 'Smartstream' three-cylinder 1.0-litre T-GDi powerplant is a real honey and one of the nicest three-pots on offer from any carmaker. This turbocharged direct injection engine comes in two power sizes: 99bhp, and 118bhp with 48-volt mild- hybrid technology. A 1.25-litre petrol model is also available. Refined and flexible with a nicely progressive throttle action, the 1.0-litre puts out its punchy 127lb ft of torque smoothly between 1,500 and 4,000rpm, pulling eagerly around the houses and cruising sweetly hushed, almost on motorways.

Select the Sport driving mode (the alternatives are Eco and Standard) and you'll find it to be a real cracker, pulling keenly all the way to the red-line with a signature three-pot warble. Darting around Devon's fiendishly twisty rollercoaster back roads, the eager-to-please three-pot-powered Rio slaps a smile on your face every time it spurts up a steep winding hill. For those times when you might prefer to have the final say over when to shift gear, the seven-speed autobox also has a manual mode.

Not only is the three-cylinder petrol engine a right little goer but working it from the driver's seat is particularly pleasing. The dash is cleanly styled and logically laid out with hi-gloss black air vents at each end and the switchgear all works as satisfyingly as what you'd get in a more upscale car; set dead centre is a 'free-standing', hi-gloss black-framed touchscreen underscored by an AirCon panel with traditional knobs and buttons that are super-easy to use on the move. Slim-ish windscreen pillars, deep, long side windows, and a decent driving position make placing the Rio effortless even in the surliest traffic. Views rearwards are good too; and when reversing there are sensors and a rear-view camera to make manoeuvring painless.

The lightly bolstered seats are upholstered in a black cloth that will be pleasant both summer and winter and although '2' trim models don't get adjustable lumbar the seats do have ample support built in to keep your back and shoulders comfy come what may. Legroom is excellent and, unexpectedly, there's a full fist of headroom and that's with the driver's height-adjustable seat ratcheted up. The smooth, satin black, leather-wrapped wheel also has plenty of adjustment and feels good in your hands. It also benefits from comprehensive and idiot-proof multifunction controls. Welcome, too, is the spacious footwell with a well-set left-foot rest for stress-free two-pedal driving.

For a compact car the Rio is generous when it comes to in-cabin storage but then its cabin is the most spacious in its class. There's a drop-down overhead case for your sunglasses, a sliding central armrest between the front seats capping a deep bin, a good size, lit and damped glovebox, a big, deep front tray with two USB jacks and a 12v socket ahead of the selector lever, twin cupholders, plus bottle holders in every door.

The Rio is pretty well
sprung and its
suspension errs on the
softer side, which makes
for a decent ride even on
second-rate blacktop;
and even over lumpy,
bumpy tarmac the ride
feels composed.
Get the Rio bowling
along a dual carriageway
or motorway at the legal
limit and it feels smooth
and reassuringly stable
— decidedly more big car
than small...”
Capable comms are now an expected standard fitment and the Rio's new infotainment and connectivity software is up to speed: intuitive, it works well with handy 'hard' menu jump buttons and easily-grasped knurled rotary knobs for volume and zoom. Go for the '3' and 'GT-Line S' trims and SatNav is part of the infotainment bundle.

Fronted by an eight-inch touchscreen display, '2' trim level models still come with all the must-haves such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (both with voice control), Bluetooth with music streaming, DAB radio, six-speaker audio system, a voice memo function, a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines (rear parking sensors are fitted as standard), and USB ports.

With their slim chrome bezels, white-on-black dials, and glowing red needles, the trad-style analogue dials are easy on your eyes. The instrument panel is completed by a high-res 4.2-inch digital display to show various driver information including the essential digital road speed readout.

In addition to all the above comms, the '2' trim gives you things like AirCon, powerfolding heated door mirrors with LED indicators, all-round electric windows (the driver's has one-shot up/down op), cruise control and speed limiter, tinted glass, and a set of multi-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels.

Along with all the foregoing you also get plenty of key safety tech, starting with a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, full suite of airbags and side curtains, a side impact protection system, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (with city, pedestrian, and cyclist detection), Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Follow Assist. To that you can add Electronic Stability Control & Vehicle Stability Management, Straight Line Stability and Cornering Brake Control, Brake-Assist, Bi-function projection headlights, LED daytime running lights, cornering lights, projection front fog lights, auto lights and wipes, Hill-start Assist, height-adjustable front belts, seatbelt reminder warning, drive-away auto door locking, welcome and fellow-me-home lights, and a rear wash/wipe.

Travelling in the back of the Rio is enjoyable. Long, deep side windows make for an airy ambiance and unrestricted views out and the backrests are set at a relaxing angle. Headroom is good too and there's decent leg room more than in some other similar-sized cars along with space ahead of your knees. Also, thanks to a very minimal central floor hump, a teenager or smaller adult occupying the middle spot will have ample footroom.

In addition to a pouch on the front passenger seatback, the door pockets hold a bottle and there's a USB charger port and comfy outer armrests. Those moving children will be glad of the wide-opening doors and the pre-installed Isofix child seat mountings on the outer seats and the child safety rear door locks. A neat touch: tap the Quiet mode soft button on the touchscreen and the radio/media volume is limited and only heard in the front of the cabin great for sleeping kids!

From its ‘tiger nose
grille to its tail
the Rio
measures a smidgen over
a compact four metres
but, in addition to
providing ample room
for four adults,
it still manages to offer
a decent size boot that
s
bigger than some of its
classmates — 325 litres
to be exact. Better still,
with just the front seats
in use, you can fold
down the 60:40-split rear
backrests to open up
a seamless and level-
floored 1,103-litre
loadbay...”
The Rio is pretty well sprung and its suspension errs on the softer side, which makes for a decent ride even on second-rate blacktop; and even over lumpy, bumpy tarmac the ride feels composed. Get the Rio bowling along a dual carriageway or motorway at the legal limit and it feels smooth and reassuringly stable decidedly more big car than small. The comfort-orientated 65 profile Michelin rubber helps too. No complaints are expected from your back seat passengers.

Riding well doesn't mean the Rio isn't up for some fun even on twisty country backroads you can press on without any penalties thanks to the well managed body control, quick steering, and a goodly amount of grip. The brakes (ventilated discs up front; regular discs at the rear) are powerful with reassuring feedback from the pedal whenever you need to kill your speed or stop dead.

The Rio measures a smidgen over a compact four metres from its 'tiger nose'-grille to its tail but, in addition to providing ample room for four adults, it still manages to offer a decent size boot that's bigger than some of its classmates 325 litres to be exact.

Better still, with just the front seats in use, you can fold down the 60:40-split rear backrests to open up a seamless and level-floored 1,103-litre loadbay. In boot mode the Rio's 'hold' is of a regular shape which makes fitting everything in so much easier; you'll also find bag-hooks to help keep your shopping shipshape on the drive home from Sainsbugs.

For cargo-carrying duties the rear hatch opens helpfully high and the hassle-free parcel-shelf luggage cover is quicker to use than most roller-blinds. There's a handy built-in rigid pocket on one side but the most useful feature is the two-level floor. In its uppermost position you get hidden underfloor storage; set lower it adds four inches to the boot height.

Beneath the lower floor you'll find extra storage in the deep spare wheel well which these days only houses a tyre repair kit. Helpfully, Kia's thoroughness stretches to providing a proper catch for holding up the boot floor while accessing the underfloor areas. And some good 'hauling' news: the 99bhp three-pot is gutsy enough to tow a braked 900kg, which is more than you may have been expecting and is certainly enough for a trailer loaded with the family's camping gear.

Finding a fuss-free 'everyday' car that appeals to the head, one that won't break the bank to buy and run but that's practical, easy to drive and pleasant to live with, is actually far harder than deciding on a 50K model. Kia's 18K Rio is that rarity a sure thing that will serve you right! ~ MotorBar
.
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi '2' DCT | 18,300
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 11 seconds | Test Average: 53.7mpg
Power: 99bhp | Torque: 127lb ft | CO2: 123g/km

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