Kia Rio is the smallest model in the Korean carmaker’s Australian range and has been a steady seller over the years, especially following its 2011 styling transformation. The latest version was launched in 2012 and given regular updates, the most recent of which was in January 2015 with some minor styling changes, suspension tweaks and revised variant names.
Working on the “if it ain’t broke…” philosophy changes to the outward appearance of the new Rio are barely noticeable and it remains a neat and attractive little vehicle. For the record there are new bumpers, front and rear; new grille pattern; and metallic look headlamps.
Inside, the centre instrument fascia of the dashboard has been glossed up and the audio unit redesigned.
Australian Kias have previously been available in four-door sedan format but are now exclusively three- or five-door hatchbacks with no return of the four-door likely in the immediate future.
For a car of its size interior space in the Rio is quite impressive. Entry and exit into the front seats is relatively easy even for larger occupants, though there’s a bit more bending required to access the rear seats.
Once inside there’s good headroom and acceptable legroom albeit with a bit of co-operation needed between taller front and/or rear occupants. Lateral space in the rear is OK for two adults but not for a third. Three mid-sized children will just about fit.
Controls are large and well-positioned with three large dials directly in front of the driver displaying speed, revs and fuel status. The steering wheel has both telescopic and tilt adjustment as well as audio and cruise control buttons.
The boot isn’t especially long but is deep enough for a couple of relatively large suitcases with the space-saver spare wheel below the boot floor. There are small storage spaces on either side of the boot wall and a full-length cargo blind.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Two naturally-aspirated petrol engines are offered, a 1.4-litre petrol engine producing 79 kW of power at 6300 rpm and 135 Nm of torque at 4200 revs, and 1.6-litre petrol with 103 kW at 6300 rpm and 167 Nm at 4850 rpm
The 1.4 can be mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic, 1.6 gets a more modern six-speed auto.
The Rio model range for 2015 has been changed with three equipment levels; S, S Premium and Si. The S is available with either three or five doors and gets the 1.4-litre engine. The S Premium also gets the smaller engine but is a five-door only as is the Si but with the extra power of the 1.6-litre unit.
The 1.4-litre models comes with 15-inch alloy wheels; the 1.6 uses 16-inchers.
The range will be topped up with two additional models, Sport and SLi, due to arrive here around May 2015.
Standard in all models are six airbags; ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist; hill start assist; high-mounted rear stop light; two IsoFix child seat sockets; and impact-sensing auto door unlocking. The S Premier and Si also get front foglamps.
Information display is restricted to a small red and black screen on the centre of the dashboard that. Despite its size it’s easy to read and informative.
Bluetooth pairing is simple and logical, and unlike other cars where the USB and Auxiliary sockets are hidden away at the bottom of the centre storage bin they are prominent and easily accessible at the lower end of the dashboard. Directly below them is a small tray clearly designed to hold a modern smartphone thus eliminating the need for cables to be draped around the front console, potentially even snagging the gear lever.
An added feature with the audio system is speed dependent volume control which is standard in all models.
Our test car was the 1.6-litre Rio Si automatic in a bad-boy Aurora Black that added an element of street cred that’s likely to appeal particularly to young male buyers.
In the urban environment for which it’s designed Kia Rio is perfectly capable. Even on the 50-kilometre motorway section of our test course it buzzed along nicely although naturally without the cruising finesse of a larger car.
Onto the rural backroads handling is well-controlled and sharp for a car in this class although the ride may be a tad on the firm side for those who prefer comfort over driving feel.
The suspension is well sorted and brakes are on the sharp side. Drivers of manual Rios with limited confidence will no doubt appreciate the hill hold feature.
In a business that throws up names such as the “BMW X3 xDrive 35i Edition Exclusive” it’s refreshing to be able to review a car with a name like Kia Rio Si which rolls easily off the tongue.
With the 2014 Soccer World Cup behind us and the 2016 Olympic Games ahead, both of which centred on the Brazilian city, Kia has been, and will continue to get plenty of free publicity for this well-equipped, cute and affordable hatchback.
Kia’s recent decision to extend its standard warranty to seven years and unlimited kilometres adds even more value to the already well-priced Rio.
AT A GLANCE
Rio S 1.4-litre three-door hatchback: $15,990 (manual), $17,990 (automatic)
Rio S 1.4-litre five-door hatch: $16,990 (manual), $18,990 (automatic)
Rio S Premium 1.4-litre five-door hatch: $17,690 (manual), $19,690 (automatic)
Rio Si 1.6-litre five-door hatch: $21,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for driveaway prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Rio Si 1.6-litre five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.591 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 77.0 mm x 85.4 mm
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 6300 rpm
Maximum Torque: 167 Nm @ 4850 rpm
Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 3.270
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4045 mm
Width: 1720 mm
Height: 1455 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Minimum ground clearance: 140 mm
Boot space: 288 litres (rear seats up); 923 litres (rear seats folded)
Turning Circle: 10.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 1201 kg
Gross weight: 1618 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 43 litres
Towing Ability: 450 kg (950 kg with braked trailer)
Maximum tow ball download: 50 kg
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: McPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Coupled torsion beam axle
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc Rear Brakes: Solid Disc
Type: Petrol 91RON
Consumption: 5.6 litres per 100 km (Combined)
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 8/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5/10
Seven years / unlimited kilometres