Heading down to Rio

Kia Rio, dynamic
Kia Rio, profile
Kia Rio, front quarter
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi First Edition, 2017, rear, static
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi First Edition, 2017, rear, action
Kia Rio, boot
Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi First Edition, 2017, interior

A MEMBER of the American military has claimed we would soon be fighting wars in space and therefore budget should be made available to establish a specialist division of starship troopers perhaps led by Hot Gossip and Sarah Brightman.

To be sure we would need to travel forward in time but we can't, neither backwards for that matter.

There are two things I would like to sample from my past, the liquorice torpedo and an Austin Maxi.

I mention the Maxi because recently I found an advert in which the company addressed the car's talents and failings according to motoring hacks of 1970.

Here is a quote: "Because the seats have to be folded to make the bed the backs can be a little short."

Yes you read that right, a family hatchback small estate which boasted the unique selling point that it could convert into a double bed.

Pointless?

Well no, mum and dad owned one and in those days a trip to the tip of Cornwall was not five hours down the motorway but included an overnight halt in a layby.

A decade before my grandfather had taken 17 hours to make the journey although the family insists he went via Mars.

Family cars, then, were very different.

Petrol was three shillings a gallon, 15p to you and engines were lumbering 1,700cc beasts which did virtually nothing to the gallon.

Today a car would have to convert to a bed because to run one you would need to sell your house.

Today's edition of family favourites is the Kia Rio, a decently practical hatchback which has come on massively since its cheapo first-generation.

Not that it is expensive now, this was the five-speed manual costing £14,235 for the 1.25-lite turbo petrol Eco version‘2' specification at the bottom of the power curve with 83bhp and therefore the performance of a trip to the shops, Which is essentially what it is meant for.

Reaching 62mph will take 12.5 seconds but on the plus side that means you can expect to average over 50mpg.

This car has family life written all over it.

Well, not literally.

If it has been graffitied up it would stand out from the crowd which the Rio does not, it is just a not unattractive workaday hatch on the outside and a fairly mundane item to sit in.

Undesirable or just practical?

Well, the latter especially given the high level of specification which comes even at entry level ‘1` designation.

The ‘2' comes with cornering lights and LED daytimes as well as follow-me-home automatic switching.

Othere safety features include autonomous braking, hill start, stability management features and lane departure warning along with a host of air bags should it all till go wrong.

All well and good for those of a nervous disposition but the driver seeking modern appliances there will be a warm welcome for a six-speaker audio system, five-inch colour touchscreen and a reversing camera.

Out on the road the Rio is set up to be mildly engaging and despite its utilitarian interior, comfortable and as refined as you would expect in the class.

While there ois a fair bit of hard plastic everything is well put together with a leather trimmed steering wheel.

It's not the most challenging set of instruments but the fascia works well.

Absolutely ideal around town, slick gearbox, good visibility and what my dad used to call ‘nippy', which always made me think of rock pooling and free from unwarranted noises on longer trips.

The boot space is a major feature of the Rio, obviously increased by folding the 60-40 rear seats.

Storage is well looked after with handy door bins and a centre console box.

In all a far cry for what passed for automotive excellence in the 70s which could inspire a comedy capers film.

We could call it back to the futile.

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