Kia on the road to

Rio

Kia Rio, front static
Kia Rio, front action
Kia Rio, side static
Kia Rio, rear action
Kia Rio, dashboard
Kia Rio, rear seats
Kia Rio, sat nav
Kia Rio, instruments
Kia Rio 3 1.4 CRDi, 2017, boot

THE Rio supermini is Kia's global best seller and so the Korean company has not gone wild with the design of this fourth generation model.

The all-new Rio is now on sale with prices starting from £11,995 and the new model features new engines and much more tech in a bid to make a larger dent in the lucrative supermini sector.

It does cost slightly more than the old model but buyers will get a lot more for their cash.

Now available only in five-door form the Rio is up against the likes of Fiesta, Polo and Corsa, so it has its work cut out.

Bigger and bolder than before the new Rio offers 10 versions with a choice of diesel and petrol engines as well as three trims - 1, 2 and 3 - and a First Edition model which offers more kit and costs £17,445.

The engines have all been designed to be frugal rather than sporty and one of them is claimed to offer up to 80.7mpg with emissions of just 92g/km.

The styling is familiar with a slimmer 'tiger-nose' front grille flanked by sculpted headlights and LED running lights. The rump is tidy and features nice lights, while the longer wheelbase means that there is more room inside.

Indeed head, leg and shoulder room is as good as or better than anything else in the class and rivals even some models in the class above.

Boot space is also increased to 325 litres, making the Rio a really practical supermini.

Inside the changes are more dramatic with all the latest technology accessed via a touchscreen. USB ports are available in the rear as well as the front, so the whole family can keep charged on long journeys.

Everything is neatly laid out and with controls and switches just where you want them and although the plastic surfaces are not soft to the touch, they do feel built to last.

There is room for four adults to travel in comfort and all the trim levels offer value for money.

Starting with the Rio 1 you get air conditioning, electric front windows, remote locking, a 3.8-inch display screen, Bluetooth, automatic lights, LED daytime running lights and much more.

Opt for grade 2 and you will add 15-inch alloys, a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, all-round electric windows, a digital DAB radio, 5-inch colour display screen, a six-speaker sound system, reversing camera, rear parking sensors and some other kit.

Top grade 3 adds 16-inch alloys, automatic air conditioning with a defogging system, black faux leather upholstery, a seven-inch display screen, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass, sat nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and Bluetooth with voice recognition.

Finally, the First Edition models - available for the first 12 months - feature 17-inch alloys, smart key entry and engine start system, stainless steel pedals, black and red faux leather upholstery and LED rear lights.

I sampled three models on hour-long road routes which had a good mixture of town, country and motorway roads.

My first drive was in the 1.4 89hp CRDi Rio 3 and the little diesel performed well with a top speed of 108mph and a sprint to 60mph in 11.6 seconds. Mated to a nice six-speed manual box it boasts a claimed fuel economy of 74.3mpg with emisssions at 98g/km.

It is sure to be one of the best sellers in the range and it offered a nice blend of performance and economy. It buzzed along nicely and was fairly quiet as soon as you got it moving.

My next drive was in the First Edition model powered by the larger capacity 118bhp version of the 1.0-litre petrol engine.

It sprints to 60mph in 9.8 seconds and is apparently capable of reaching 118mph with a combined claimed fuel economy of 60.1mpg and emissions of 107g/km. Again it featured a six-speed manual gearbox and this was my favourite engine on the day.

The less punchy 99bhp version comes with a five-speed gearbox and also offers a more than decent drive and economy of 68.2mpg.

In all models the new suspension is on the firm side but it is not too harsh and should cope admirably with our roads. The steering could be slightly sharper but I am sure it will suit 99 per cent of Rio buyers.

Grip was always good and there was little body roll to contend with even on tight bends and I always felt that I was in a bigger car.

The Rio also packs a more than decent level of safety kit and is the first in its class to offer autonomous emergency braking. It also has lane departure warning on Rio 2 and 3 and it can be had as an option on the entry-level car.

Tyre noise was a bit loud on some surfaces but overall the cabin was a comfortable place to be with good space and plenty equipment to keep me happy.

The Rio has certainly lifted its game to compete with the best in its class but it is still not as much fun to drive as a Fiesta or as classy as a Polo.

Then again it does offer a 7-year warranty and that will ensure that it will attract its fair share of buyers.

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