Kia Rio 1.0 '2'

Kia Rio, 2023, front
Kia Rio, 2023, side
Kia Rio, 2023, rear
Kia Rio, 2023, instrument panel
Kia Rio, 2023, interior
Kia Rio, 2023, engine

PURE electric cars, hybrids and PHEVs are stealing most of the headlines. Understandably, this is the future and there's an appropriate degree of excitement.

But not everyone is lusting after excitement and thrills and there's still a strong market for reasonably priced, economic-to-run small cars with small petrol engines.

One of the less heralded but nevertheless appealing offerings is the Kia Rio, a compact but roomy five-door that has a meagre thirst but a lively performance. Sure, it's a tad bland looking and certainly won't draw a crowd in the car park.

Power comes from a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine that knocks out 99bhp - sufficient to send it to 62mph in a sprightly 10 seconds - not so long ago, this would have put it in warm hatch territory.

There's also a turbo version which boasts 118bhp, but for my money I'd stick with the less powerful model and go for the ‘2' trim which still has a decent spec.

With a modest emissions level of 120g/km and a combined economy of 53mpg, it promises to be undemanding on the wallet. A further plus is Kia's seven year warranty.

Though the Rio is undoubtedly overshadowed by newer, flashier models in the Kia range, it quietly goes about its business of providing easy-to-drive transport for families who must work to a budget. And its ease of driving and logical instrument and switchgear layout will appeal strongly to owners who are not won over by gimmickry and new tech.

A manual six speed gearbox with a fairly long-throw action is standard. It's quite high geared which helps make the Rio relaxed and quieter than many rivals. For a small hatch, it's remarkably long-legged and will happily cruise all day at near the legal limit.

The ride is on the soft side but this helps iron out rippled surfaces and the usual road imperfections. Only larger potholes and ruts are able to disturb its composure. There's some body roll when pressing on through bends but remember the Rio does not have any aspirations to be a sports car.

Space is generous with ample space for four. Headroom front and rear is ample and there's a family sized boot as well as plenty of storage space for oddments, water bottles and the usual family clutter within the cabin. Rear seats split 60-40 and fold down.

Legroom in the back is better than the most small hatches. And it helps having just a small central hump if you want to squeeze in an extra passenger.

The facia and cabin style is a tad old school with plenty of dark plastic and no digital display but it all works well and is easy to operate. The ‘2' version doesn't have sat nav fitted but if you have smart phone it can link up to Google Maps.

FAST FACTS

Kia Rio 1.0 '2'

Price: £17,520

Mechanical: 998cc, 3 cyl, 99bhp petrol engine driving 2 wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 10.0sec

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 4

C02 emissions: 120g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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