2019 Kia Rio GT exterior front 3/4.

Kia Rio competes in one of the most hard-fought sales segments in Australia so it made sense to give a full-on revamp with major mechanical changes to give it more weapons to fight with.

The entry level Rio S is unchanged, with a 1.4-litre petrol engine mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Much bigger news is that the Rio Si and SLi models have been replaced by a new Kia Rio Sport. It has 17-inch alloy wheels and, importantly, a six-speed automatic that replaces the four-speed. It has cruise control, leather trim on the steering wheel and gear lever, as well as powered folding door mirrors.

At the top of the range, the Rio GT-Line has a sporty 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol with 88kW of power and 172Nm of torque. It now drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

2019 Kia Rio GT exterior rear 3/4.

GT-Line features a body kit and a full-on range of LED lights: Daytime Running Lights, Position Lamps, foglights and rear lights.

Infotainment uses a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth as well as Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility.

Safety is increasingly important to buyers in this class as many are youngsters and their parents are concerned about them. Standard features on all include ABS, ESC, VSM, reverse parking sensors, rearview camera and six airbags. The GT-Line adds AEB and Lane Keep Assist to the passive safety features.

Kia’s 7-Year Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Servicing and 7-Year Roadside Assist is a major plus for the Rio, indeed for all vehicles in the South Korean marque’s range.

2019 Kia Rio GT interior.

Pricing starts at $16,990 RRP for the manual and $17,490 drive away for the automatic. The Sport trim starts at $17,990 drive away for the manual and $18,990 for the 6-speed automatic. The GT-Line is $21,990 drive away.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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