By Dominic Parkes
From humble beginnings manufacturing bicycle parts, Kia reached the heady heights of selling nearly three million units a year, and the South Korean brand seems to be powering ever forward.
The 2017 Rio model is in the Clio and Polo super-mini pool of cars so it is no surprise that it is more of a city car than a motorway mile-muncher.
Our government, in line with much of Europe at the moment, is currently searching for a suitable stick with which to beat the diesel-car owner so the small un-turbo-charged petrol model I am reviewing could sell very well.
Clearly, it would be wrong to brand it a super-quick car, but around town it is nippy and very chuckable with great steering, well-damped suspension and good brakes: thankfully very good brakes, as I discovered when a flat-capped elderly gent decided to lurch across my path with no warning.
The interior is up to the usual Kia high standard, all switches are well laid out and the level of equipment on this relatively lowly ‘2’ model includes; rear view camera, lane departure warning, traction control, a superbly clear, if not overly- powerful, audio system with Bluetooth, and surprisingly comfortable seats.
So, that’s a big tick for the driving and interior of the car then. Now, let’s judge the exterior. The design of the new Rio looks a balanced, solid and quality item but, well, er, um, safe, tame and possibly a touch boring.
Maybe it is because recent offerings from Kia have been so well-executed and fizzing with design-cues that I take this view. In no way is it ugly, or something that would shame your driveway, it’s just…safe.
It is, however, longer, wider and lower than the Rio it replaces and nudges four metres long (at 4045mm), the wheelbase is slightly longer than the old Rio which translates to more interior room and a decent boot, although I noticed someone had stolen the spare wheel – this seems to be happening a lot with new cars.
If you wish to square up to possible government interference, then choose the 1.4 diesel for an engine with a bit of pull.
However, the 1.4 petrol is an equally frugal and quick unit and would be my preference merely because there will be less to potentially go wrong under the bonnet.
Fancy an automatic? You are in luck but only in petrol 1.4 guise and in a middling specification. It should come as no surprise that the fuel economy is also very respectable; the 1.4 petrol will return almost 50mpg on a long run, and better than 40mpg in mixed use.
The 1.25-litre petrol won’t better that by much, and a figure of 50mpg from the 1.4 diesel, without trying too hard. The 1.1 will equal the diesel in fuel consumption but I feel will soon run out of puff hauling the new Rio’s shell.
Kia still supply the generous 100,000-mile warranty, as well as its Care-3 servicing offer, which buys three years of services for just less than £300, and is transferable to the next owner.
If you are in the market for a new super-mini, a trip to Rio could be a very wise move.