The fourth-generation Kia Rio, previewed at the Paris Motor Show last autumn, goes on sale in the UK today priced from just £11,995. With high-tech new engines, improved fuel efficiency and emissions, a more mature driving experience, greater space and style and the introduction of state-of-the-art connectivity and driver assistance systems for the first time, the latest Rio is the small car grown up.
In line with customer demand, the Rio will now be sold as a five-door model only. There are 10 versions in three trim grades – badged 1, 2 and 3 for simplicity, in familiar Kia style – with a limited-run First Edition model as the pinnacle of the range, priced at £17,445.
All are extensively equipped, rising to truly luxurious. Even grade 1 is fitted as standard with air conditioning, front electric windows with an automatic function on the driver's side, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.8-inch display screen, Bluetooth, automatic light control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. There are body-coloured bumpers, door mirror casings and door handles, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 60:40 split rear seats. A four-speaker audio system is standard, while safety provisions include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
Grade 2, priced from £13,745, supplements all this with 15-inch alloy wheels in place of similar-sized steel wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter, electric windows at the rear as well as the front, electric folding mirrors with LED indicator lights, a digital DAB radio, a 5-inch colour display screen, a six-speaker audio system, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, a 3.5-inch premium supervision cluster, rear as well as front USB charging ports, cruise control with a speed limiter and Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning systems. There is chrome trim around the black radiator grille, premium black cloth upholstery and a centre storage box.
Additional features on Grade 3, which starts at £16,295, include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning with a defogging system, black faux leather upholstery, a 7-inch display screen, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing front wipers, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, satellite navigation, Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity and Bluetooth with voice recognition.
Finally, the First Edition version adds 17-inch alloys, a smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, black and red faux leather upholstery and LED rear lights.
Depending on model, the new Rio is available in a choice of seven exterior colours. Sienna Brown is the standard choice, with Clear White as a no-cost option and Satin Silver, Graphite, Midnight Black, Smokey Blue and Blaze Red as premium options.
The latest in advanced driver aids and connectivity
The new Rio is the first car in its class with Autonomous Emergency Braking as part of Kia's advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It also features a Lane Departure Warning system. Both are standard from grade 2 upwards and optional with grade 1. And, in an increasingly connected world, the Rio now offers Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom and featuring Android Auto and Apple Car Play smartphone integration.
These are standard with grade 3 and the First Edition models.
Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition takes data from radar and a camera to detect sudden and potentially dangerous braking by a vehicle ahead, and activates the brakes. At speeds between 5mph and 50mph the Rio will come to a complete stop, avoiding many potential collisions. It is also able to detect pedestrians who wander into its path and apply the brakes in the same way.
The Lane Departure Warning system, which also relies on a camera that in this case recognizes the lane markings on roads, senses when the car is about to veer off course without the indicators being activated and warns the driver to take corrective action.
A new feature – Straight Line Stability – senses any difference in applied brake pressure between the right and left of the car and intervenes to keep it straight, while another first for the Rio, Cornering Brake Control, delivers asymmetrical brake pressure when slowing in tight curves to counter loss of traction. Both are standard across the range.
Kia Connected Services with TomTom are accessed through a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system. The information available to drivers includes live traffic updates, weather reports, speed camera locations and local point-of-interest searches.
The system is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay through a suitable smartphone. Both allow occupants to connect to various apps and functions, including voice-guided, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Android Auto gives access to Google Maps navigation and Google Play music, while Apple Car Play links to pre-loaded maps, music, podcasts, texts and messages and audiobooks through Siri voice control.
More space, greater style and increased comfort
The new Rio is the largest and most spacious to date, and has new suspension and steering for a more grown-up feel on the road, while the acclaimed styling has a more mature and polished appearance. No wonder the Rio is known within Kia as 'a little Titan'.
It adds a new twist to the award-winning styling which permeates every model from Kia. The brand's instantly recognizable 'tiger-nose' main front grille is more slender and wider, and it integrates neatly with the new highly sculpted halogen bi-function projection headlights with U-shaped LED running lights.
The styling was a joint effort by Kia's design teams in Germany and the United States, with the involvement of the main design office at Namyang in South Korea. It is characterized by straight lines, smooth surfaces and revised proportions and balance. There is a longer wheelbase, bonnet and front overhang, a lower roofline and a more upright and more compact back end. Detailing inside and out has been designed to emphasize the car's interior space and its stability on the road.
The increased leg and shoulder room are among the best in class, as is headroom – despite the lower roofline. A further benefit from the new proportions is increased boot capacity – up by almost 13 per cent to 325 litres – while the fuel tank is two litres larger at 45 litres.
The interior has been designed around the touchscreens for the new connectivity technologies.
The horizontal theme evident in the exterior styling is repeated in the cabin, emphasizing width and space while separating the upper information and lower control areas. The touchscreens have allowed the number of buttons and switches to be reduced, giving a neater look and greater functionality. The Rio is the first car in class with USB ports front and rear, so that mobile devices can be charged from any seat.
The new Rio relies on a similar suspension system to its predecessor, but there has been extensive work to enhance comfort and driver enjoyment.
Much of the improvement is due to a stiffer body shell, which is made of 51 per cent advanced high-strength steel compared with 33 per cent in the outgoing car. The stiffer the body shell, the less the suspension has to compensate for flexing under load. Advanced high-strength steels also contribute towards weight reduction, as vital sections of the body construction do not need to be as thick.
The new Rio has more rigid front suspension struts than its predecessor and a raised torsion beam to improve stability; revised springs and shock absorbers to improve compliance and comfort; vertical rear shock absorbers and front shock absorbers with advanced new valve technology for more consistent responses; and a repositioned power steering gearbox which results in improved feel when the steering wheel is in the straight-ahead position. The overall effect is more immediate handling responses and greater confidence for the driver.
A stiffer body shell also enhances crash safety by keeping the passenger cell intact in an accident while the front, rear and side crumple zones absorb impact energy. This is supported in the Rio by the advanced driver assistance systems ESC and VSM, which together mitigate against skids when cornering or accelerating on surfaces with uneven levels of grip. All versions also have HAC to prevent the car from rolling backwards when setting off on steep inclines.
T-GDi engines head more efficient powertrain line-up
Kia's 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) engines are offered in the Rio for the first time and head a seven-strong powertrain line-up which shows improvements in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions over the outgoing Rio.
The new engines showcase Kia's advanced engine technology capabilities through downsizing, turbocharging, direct fuel injection and weight reduction, and feature a number of detailed engineering solutions to minimize throttle lag – the delay between the driver pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger delivering boost – and reduce internal friction.
They join revised versions of Kia's 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines, and two versions of the European-designed and European-built 1.4-litre CRDi turbodiesel.
The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine is available with either 99 or 118bhp, in both cases with 171Nm of torque across a wide rev band, starting at only 1,500rpm, for effortless driveability. The lesser-powered version has fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 62.8mpg and 102g/km, while the sparkling 118bhp version is not far behind, with 60.1mpg and 107g/km. Both are capable of more than 50mpg in city driving. The respective 0-60mph acceleration times are 10.3 and 9.8 seconds, and both versions have a top speed of at least 115mph.
The fuel economy champion of the new Rio range is the lesser-powered, 76bhp 1.4-litre diesel, a new option in Rio. Both 1.4-litre diesels have a healthy 240Nm of torque and have CO2 emissions below 100g/km – 92g/km and 98g/km respectively – while fuel consumption figures are 80.7 and 74.3mpg. The 240Nm of torque is available from just 1,500rpm, giving sprightly acceleration from 0-60mph in either 13.5 or 11.6 seconds, with top speeds of more than 100mph.
The 1.25-litre petrol engine develops 83bhp and 121Nm of torque, and has fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 58.8mpg and 109g/km. This easy-going entry-level power unit is ideally suited to urban driving, but is far from out of its depth at highway speeds. It can accelerate from 0-60mph in 12.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 107mph.
The final option is a new-to-Rio multi-point injection unit with a capacity of 1.4 litres and power and torque outputs of 98bhp and 133Nm. Economy is 56.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 114g/km. The 0-60mph and top speed figures are 11.8 seconds and 108mph.
This engine is also available with a four-speed automatic gearbox for the convenience of drivers who spend most of their time in heavy traffic or who have physical disabilities which prevent them from driving a manual. In this configuration, economy and CO2 emissions are 46.3mpg and 140g/km, while the performance figures are 0-60mph in 13.4 seconds and a top speed of 103mph.
All manual versions of the new Rio have Kia's Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop-start system to eliminate tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption while stationary in traffic.
Warranty and Servicing
In common with all Kias, the Rio comes with the best warranty in the business – a seven-year/100,000-mile declaration of faith in the reliability and quality of the car, covering all labour and parts except those subject to normal wear and tear. The warranty is transferable if the car is sold before the time/mileage limit expires.
The new Rio is also available with Care 3 and Care 3 Plus servicing packages for retail customers. These cover the cost of all routine servicing work for three or five years respectively and, like the warranty, can be passed on if the car is sold before they expire.
Globally, the Rio is Kia's best-seller, with sales close to 475,000 a year, and while it is overshadowed in the UK by the European-built Sportage crossover and cee'd range, it is still a highly significant model, accounting for almost one-sixth of the company's sales.