By on 2018-03-03 -
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi 3
KIA'S Rio supermini is all grown up in its latest fourth-generation incarnation - its largest and most spacious yet.
Priced from just Â£11,995, it's also the first with a full connectivity package and advanced driver assistance systems matched to a new suspension and steering set up for a more polished feel on the road.
However, while that all might sound good, the Rio is just one contender in the very busy supermini class. And the competition - the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, Skoda Fabia, SEAT Ibiza, Toyota Yaris, Mazda2 and new Nissan Micra to name but a few - is hot. However, more than 54,000 Rios have been sold in Europe since its launch at the beginning of 2017.
It is the company's best-seller globally though overshadowed by the Sportage and cee'd in the UK, where it is being sold as a five-door model only.
Excluding two special editions, there are nine versions in three trim grades - badged in familiar Kia style, 1, 2 and 3 for simplicity.
One of the Rio's strongest selling points is the level of kit on all trim levels. Even grade 1 cars benefit from air con, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.8-inch display screen, Bluetooth, automatic lights, cornering lights and hill-start assist.
Grade 2 adds digital radio, a five-inch colour display screen, six-speaker audio system, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, cruise control, plus Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning systems.
Grade 3 includes 16-inch alloys, faux leather upholstery, seven-inch display screen, heated steering wheel and front seats, rain-sensing front wipers, privacy glass plus sat nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and Bluetooth with voice recognition.
The Rio also features USB ports front and rear so mobile devices can be charged from any seat.
Its new styling - a longer wheelbase, bonnet and front overhang, a lower roofline and a more upright and compact back end - put it streets ahead of its predecessors. Despite the lower roofline, the increased leg and shoulder room are among the best in class, as is headroom. There's certainly enough space to carry four adults in reasonable comfort even if rear legroom is a little tight.
A further benefit is increased boot capacity - up by almost 13 per cent to 325 litres.
The interior has been designed around the touchscreen which has allowed the number of buttons and switches to be reduced, giving a neater look. All are clearly labelled and easy to reach. The touchscreen infotainment system is also easy to navigate and use.
Importantly, there's plenty of space up front with the driver getting a very reasonable range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. The front seats are comfortable and supportive too.
Kia's 1.0-litre T-GDi - turbocharged gasoline direct-injection - engine is offered in the Rio for the first time, heading a seven-strong powertrain line-up, including revised versions of Kia's 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines, and two versions of its 1.4-litre CRDi turbodiesel.
The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine is available with either 99bhp or 118bhp, in both cases with an ample 171Nm of torque starting from only 1,500rpm, which makes overtaking relatively easy. The 99bhp version officially returns 62.8mpg - I managed 41.4mpg - and 102g/km.
While all other manual models have a six-speed gearbox, the 1.0-litre has a smooth-shifting five-speed.
The new Rio relies on a similar suspension system to its predecessor, but Kia's engineers have worked hard to improve comfort and driver enjoyment. While ‘fun' might not be the word to associate with the Rio it is certainly comfortable, safe and stable. I drove it several hundred miles in atrocious weather, yet it never felt out of its depth - a surprise given the amount of surface water.
While not as agile as a Fiesta, the Rio's steering is nicely weighted while its grip and composure through corners is more than adequate. This is supported by a raft of active safety and advanced driver systems including electronic stability control and Kia's Vehicle Stability Management system which mitigates against skids when cornering or accelerating on surfaces with uneven levels of grip.
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. In another first for the Rio, Cornering Brake Control delivers asymmetrical brake pressure when slowing in tight curves to counter any loss of traction.
Around town, like its rivals, is where the Rio is best thanks to good all-round visibility, responsive steering and its nippy turbo petrol powerplant.
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi 3 Eco
Mechanical: 99bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Insurance Group: 8
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