$15,290 – $19,990
Good: Handling dynamics; Generous level of standard equipment; Value for money.
Not so Good: Interior plastics; Lack of touch screen / Satellite Navigation; Road roar.
Design and Engineering
Good : The fourth-generation five-door Kia Rio hatch arrived in Australia in September 2011, with sedan and 3-door hatch versions joining the line-up in February 2012.
The fourth-generation Kia Rio is definitely a step up from the previous gens’ styling. From the front the Kia Rio features some massive air vents that are blacked out with a honey comb pattern mesh, diverting your eyes up the Rio also features a grille that is fashioned into a bow tie shape and is highlighted by a chrome ‘look’ detail.
Depending on grade, the sinister looking headlights are made even more so with daytime LED running lights.
From side on the Rio features flared wheel arches and a sharp upward arching crease line that continues from the bottom of the door up to the shoulder line and all the way through the rear tail lights. Depending on grade the Rio’s side profile is completed with 15-inch steel wheels, 16-inch alloy wheels or 17-inch alloys – that’s right people you read it right, 17-inch alloys!
From the rear the Rio features a sporty stance, the rear roof lip spoiler and black detailing on the rear bumper add to the sporty look.
Not so good : The 16-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels look great, but they are susceptible to gutter rash while parking.
Interior and Styling
Good : The Kia Rio keeps things simple; the interior is modern without being overly fussy. The interior theme is dominated by black with touches of silver highlights throughout the cabin to break things up. Middle and top spec variants feature a soft-touch plastic dash that looks and feels premium.
The cloth seats in the S model feature a funky pattern and all controls and instruments are illuminated with a red light.
Not so good : Quality fit and finish still isn’t quite there yet, but Kia is definitely making great strides in shaking the previous ‘cheap and cheerful’ name-tag.
Good : The Kia Rio range comes with the choice of two petrol engines.
First up is a 1.4-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 79kW of power and 135Nm of torque when mated to a 6-speed manual fitted as standard or a 4-speed automatic as an added option.
Next up is the 1.6-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 103kW of power and 167Nm of torque when mated to a 6-speed manual fitted as standard (hatch only) or a 6-speed automatic that is an added option on the hatch (standard on sedan). The 1.6-litre is one punchy little engine, it has plenty of get-up-and-go to get the Rio moving.
Not so good : The 1.4-litre feels a little underpowered especially when compared to the 103kW of power of the 1.6-litre.
Ride and Handling
Good : The people over at Kia tell me the Rio underwent comprehensive local testing and fine-tuning to ensure responsive handling while maintaining stability, ride quality and refinement – and, it shows!
The Kia Rio is a superb little all-rounder; it handles well on fast twisty roads but is also quite smooth and easy to manoeuvre in and around town. Now, don’t get me wrong this is by no means a hot hatch; but it’s not trying to be, it’s just a fun little car to drive.
Not so good : If anything the Kia Rio suffers from road roar even with the small wheels, however a different set of tyres should remedy this.
Buying and Owning
Good : The Kia Rio offers up great value for money, even moving up in the variant scale you get a lot for your money – CD, radio & USB/AUX/iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, 15-inch steel wheel with full wheel cover for S models and 16-inch alloys for the Si and massive 17-inch alloy wheels for the SLi top spec.
Si and SLi models feature a Leather wrapped steering wheel, front fog lights, centre console armrest, soft-touch dash and cruise control.
The SLi adds projection front headlamps, LED day-time running lights, static cornering lamps, LED rear combination lamps, auto light control and enhanced brake package.
Safety is covered by six airbags (dual front, front side & curtain) ESC, ABS, EBD, BAS and TCS as standard across the range.
Not so good : Although the Kia Rio is a massive step for Kia, the brand still has a less premium public perception than some of its competitors might and this could affect resale value.