Nothing wrong with that
It may seem like Kia itself doesn't know what it wants. At first, it was all about low price. Then, by making the Rio more beautiful, modern and fun, that low price was done. Yet that is a very deliberate policy. In fact, customer desire changed over the years. The customer looks less at the low price when buying, and more at low costs when using and trading in.
Therefore, appearance, reliability and functionality were central to the design of the new Rio. Compared to the previous Rio, the car has become longer, lower and wider. With those exterior dimensions, the Rio is now the longest car in its segment (height and width are average). It only comes as a five-door. Thanks to the use of modern steel, the new Rio is on average 17 kg lighter than the old one.
Space and equipment
In practice, this translates into average space in the front and slightly more space than usual in the back seat. The boot is generously sized at 325 litres. Moreover, the double load floor offers extra options. The materials used and the finish quality are fine. A nice detail is the (optional) coloured strip across the dashboard. In no way does the Rio give the feeling of driving a small or cheap car.
That feeling is enhanced by the equipment. Not only does the Rio offer rich (safety) equipment, it is also available from a relatively low equipment level. The features that the Rio offers (automatic braking for danger, lane departure warning, steering wheel heating, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto) are not unique, but in the competition are often only available on the most expensive version.
Petrol: 1.2 MPI
On simplest engine on the price list is the "1.2 MPI". The word "simple" is appropriate here, because by using simple and now obsolete technology, Kia can build and offer this power source cheaply.
In practice, the 1.2 MPI lacks agility and the engine has to work hard to keep up with the flow of traffic. To perform, the engine has to be kept revved up, which results in high consumption. The 1.2 MPI therefore seems cheap to buy, but is not so in use.
Petrol: 1.0 T-GDI
With a capacity of 1.0 litres, the three-cylinder T-GDI seems the lesser engine, but thanks to a turbo it actually delivers more power at low consumption. Kia has done a good job of suppressing the sounds of the tyres and driving wind, which is partly why the characteristic ruffling sound characteristic of a three-cylinder is present.
The performance of the 100 hp / 171 Nm turbo engine is downright good. Thereby, it is noticeable that the T-GDI offers plenty of smoothness down to very low revs. As early as 1,200 rpm, the shift indicator suggests selecting a higher gear. That seems too early, but that's when the engine runs best. At high revs, the three-cylinder is nicely eager and quick.
Despite the low revs and many fuel-saving measures, in practice the 1.0 T-GDI is not as economical as promised. Even with an extremely calm driving style, 6.5 litres per 100 km was the best achievable and that is far too high for a car with an engine like this.
Diesel: 1.4 CRDi
The finest engine on the price list is the 1.4-litre four-cylinder diesel. Not only does it offer ample power, it also builds the power most gradually. As a result, the whole car feels more mature.
Because Kia is responding to the demand for the familiar with the Rio, there are no technological marvels on the programme. So don't expect an electric version or even a hybrid. When choosing a possible automatic, take note: the new Rio (1.4 CVVT) is available with an almost antique four-speed automatic.
Regardless of the engine chosen, handling is roughly the same; the diesel steers marginally better, but the difference is small. Once again, Kia opts for the familiar. Consequently, the Rio has no distinct character and tries to give itself away as much as possible.
Partly for this reason, many would almost forget how well the car actually drives. For instance, many cars in this segment (and other models from Kia!) have thick A-pillars that obstruct visibility diagonally in front. In contrast, the Rio gives unobstructed visibility in tricky traffic situations. Unfortunately, visibility in the interior mirror is actually poor because of the small rear window.
For the test, it was driven in a variety of weather conditions and on all kinds of roads, from newly paved asphalt to country lanes full of potholes. Each time, the Rio offered ample comfort, and even when the driver steers clumsily, the Rio is not at fault.
What does the new Kia Rio (2017) have to offer? Solidity and confidence. The Rio is not innovative and has no distinct character. Its added value over the competition therefore seems small. However, the Rio can hardly be faulted, only the consumption figures are disappointing in practice.
Handling is almost exemplary. Moreover, the Rio offers all the luxury of its competitors even from a lower equipment level. Thus, Kia takes another big step forward with the fourth generation of the Rio.
- Excellent handling
- Functional and solid
- Strong, lively 1.0 T-GDI engine
- Many patronising warnings
- Not as economical as promised
- Poor visibility in rear-view mirror due to small rear window