Kia- A company that has come a long way, whilst sharing a lot of commonality and parts with Hyundai the brand has produced some really good cars recently; the Pro Cee’d GT comes to mind amongst others. For one thing, their adverts sponsoring the CSI and crime investigation programmes on channel 5 helped to get things moving in the right direction. More notably the 7-year 100,000-mile warranty makes Kia attractive to potential buyers. Whilst not to everyone’s taste they have made some good cars, personally I quite like the Soul because it stands out from the crowd.
This month has seen the launch and price list of the new Kia Rio. Prices for the Rio start at just £11,995 going up to £17,495 for the top of the range model (price may vary if you change colour). Kia have made the difference between trim levels easy to understand providing 3 levels of trim: level 1 providing the entry-level with prices of 11,995/ 13,495 with the bigger engine, level 2 starting at £13,475, to £15,245 and level 3 starting at £16,295 up to £17,445
Engines and performance
The cheapest Rio comes with a 1.2 5 speed manual with 83 BHP and a 0-60mph time of 12.5 seconds and 58 mpg (combined). An automatic can be bought on trim level 2 however with only a 4-speed gearbox and 46.3mpg it seems a pretty bad option that would be worth missing altogether. You can have a 1-litre turbo engine for the Rio providing a 0-60 time of 10.3 seconds, 99 BHP and returning mpg of 62.8 (combined). This is only available on trim levels 2 and 3, if you are willing to spend a little more you can have the Rio first edition 1.0litre with 118 BHP and 0-60 in 9.8 seconds with a slightly lower mpg of 60.1 and is only for a limited edition run for the car. It is worth pointing out that whilst not the quickest of cars the 1.4 diesel is capable of 80 mpg. Kia has given a variety of engine options but with most cars not offering 0-60 in under 12 seconds they are slower than a lot of rivals. Based on engine performance alone I would be looking at either the Rio “3” 1.4CRDI (89 bhp, 6 speed) or 1-litre engine. It is also worth noting that all manual versions of the Rio come with intelligent stop and Go (stop and go) as standard.
The Rio has a good level of safety systems available; whilst the base trim 1 level doesn’t have quite as much going for it as standard, level 2 and 3 trims come with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning system (part of Kia’s advanced driver assistance systems ADAS).Which can be specified on trim level one. The Rio boasts other safety features that are standard across the range including straight line stability which keeps the car in a straight line when braking (by sensing the difference in brake pressure on each side). Furthermore cornering brake control counters loss of traction when corning and adjusts the brakes accordingly. For a small car the safety specifications are pretty considerable, with the previous 3rd generation Rio achieving a 5 star Euro NCAP rating this looks set to continue and improve.
This is one of the stands out areas for the Kia, whilst it isn’t full of high-end spec gadgets it does have a lot to offer. For myself, a key feature has to be the stereo connectivity, with the basic entry-level including USB and AUX ports along with Bluetooth streaming as standard. Whilst the Rio only has 4 speakers on entry-level trim, this is upgraded to 6 on trim level 2 and 3. Additionally, trim level 3 will include apple car play and android auto. The USB and AUX port options, this means that people on lower trim levels won’t be missing out on music connectivity. Whilst not the geekiest of things entry level Rio’s do benefit from Air con as standard. Level 2 trim features the upgraded speakers and a larger screen with DAB radio. Level 2 trim also has the additional reversing camera with guidelines as well as rear parking sensors, which will help with parking visibility, notably this does not include front parking sensors, though. Top Level 3 trim includes a 7-inch screen with Sat-Nav provided by TOMTOM. Trim level 3 also features voice recognition, cruise control with speed limiter, rain sensing front wipers, heated front seats and steering wheel. Considering that this is at the price of £16,295 it really is not a bad option as it comes in slightly cheaper than a similarly specced Ford Fiesta.
Space and practicality
The Rio offers a large boot size of 325 litres (35 litres more than a Fiesta), as well as boasting the best head and leg room available in its class. Furthermore, the larger fuel tank size of 45 litres will give you more range than previously and is larger than other cars in the class including the Nissan Note and Fiesta. The traditional 60:40 folding rear seats also give further practicality to the car.
The Rio is a long way from its first generation model which is fantastic. It offers good value on second and third level trims. One of the things I do like is the simplicity of the trim levels and the pricing. This does have a downside that you can’t have a lower specification car with one or two optional extras, you do have to pay for the complete package on each trim level. Furthermore the engine options whilst improved from previous generations, don’t offer the same performance as other manufacturers. This is particularly bad on the automatic level with its four-speed gearbox and notably, there is a lack of 6-speed gearboxes available. Early road tests also indicate whilst there has been improved handling and body roll this is an area which other cars offer a higher level of refinement and quality. Personally, I would consider either a level 2 trim 1.4 6 speed Diesel or a trim level 3 1 litre.