Kia Rio 1.25 '2'

Kia Rio, front action
Kia Rio, rear action
Kia Rio, front static
Kia Rio, rear static
Kia Rio, dashboard
Kia Rio, rear seats

FLICKING around the Internet for a new car it's easy to start day dreaming about the set of wheels you'd like parked outside the house for the next year or two.

Easy to fancy a Ferrari, for instance. Red, probably and with the optional gold rims and leather wheel arches (inside, of course). A yellow rev counter would be nice, too.

Then you come down to earth and remember the budget: modest. And what you'll be doing with the car; taking the kids to school, the family to the supermarket and dad to the station.

So a Ferrari doesn't really fit the bill. The car you see here, on the other hand, might do just that.

The Rio is one step up in the Kia range and built to take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio.

Built in the Kia homeland of Korea, the Rio starts at £10,095 for a car with a 1.25-litre petrol engine and climbs to the rarefied heights of £17,445 for a bells-and-whistles model with a 1.4-litre diesel on board.

Hardly anyone will go for the latter model - you're well into the territory of the next size of car at this price level - but the more modest petrol burner, also fitted to the test car, will attract lots of attention.

Not for its Ferrari-like performance (by some way) or for its leech-like hold on the road (it's perfectly safe but some distance from fun) but for the way it would rapidly become the household transport equivalent of the washing machine or vacuum cleaner.

Lots (too many?) reports you read on cars start and end with the fun you're going to have if you buy one (that Ferrari again) but most of us don't inhabit a world of wall to wall transport delight.

Rather, we're happy with a car that promises modestly and then more than delivers. Like the Kia Rio.

This latest version may have had a nip and tuck at the stylist's - new bumpers front and rear, new trim and dashboard treatment inside - but it's never going to be anything more than a compact five-door hatch with family duties in mind. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Nothing munch wrong with the way the car moves either; you'll need to change gear rather a lot when uphill slopes appear and the road roars away beneath the tyres on coarse surfaces, but 50.4mpg on the trip computer promises an economical life with the Rio.

So does the seven years or 100,000 miles warranty on non-wear-and-tear-items, an insurance class only three rungs above the cheapest out there and nothing to pay on car tax in year one and a mere £30 thereafter.

There's room in the rear for a couple of growing children (three at a pinch) and the boot is big enough for most practical purposes. Bigger than a Ferrari's for sure. There's even a proper temporary spare wheel, replacing the tyre repair kit on previous Rios that might leave you stranded in deepest Spain on a wet Sunday evening.

Then we come to fixtures and fittings. Every Rio has a DAB radio, electrically heated and adjusted door mirrors, while the '2' grade on test adds electric windows all round, air conditioning and alloy wheels.

FAST FACTS

Kia Rio 1.25 '2'

Price: £12,845

Mechanical: 82bhp, 1,248cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 104 mph

0-62mph: 12.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.5

Insurance Group: 3

C02 emissions: 115g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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