Review: Kia Rio (2017)
Practical and easy to drive. Enjoyable on a country road. Great 1.0 T-GDI engine. Good value. Long warranty.
Ride could be better in town. Some old-fashioned engine options.
Kia Rio (2017): At A Glance
- New prices start from £12,220, brokers can source from £11,858
- Contract hire deals from £148.06 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 2–3
- On average it achieves 83% of the official MPG figure
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the Kia Rio – but that’s no bad thing. If you want simple, honest transport then it fits the bill perfectly. Plus it’s affordable, reasonably well-equipped, cheap to run and comes with a seven-year warranty.
Economy is strong, with almost every engine officially capable of more than 60mpg. Go for a diesel and the claimed figures rise upwards of 80mpg, but the real highlight is the 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol. It’s punchy, quiet and economical whether you pick it the 100PS or 120PS version.
The Rio is very easy to drive, with light, smooth controls. Around town it’s good for the most part, but the suspension does have a tendency to thump over potholes. Fortunately, things get smoother and more comfortable at higher speeds with refinement good on the motorway.
Inside, the Kia Rio is nicely finished, with sturdy build quality and a clear and intuitive layout. The centre stack features a responsive 5.0-inch touchscreen system if you skip the basic ‘1’ trim level, while the dials are simple and easy to read. There’s plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat too.
As small hatchbacks go, practicality is good. There’s enough space in the back for a couple of adults, with surprising levels of hat room and - unless there are tall occupants up front - decent leg room too. The boot is sizeable with 325 litres of capacity, beating the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
It might not have the all-round classiness and capability of the SEAT Ibiza or the dynamic sparkle of the Ford Fiesta, but the Rio is a very capable hatchback that does everything well enough. Factor in the seven-year warranty and it's a sound buy.
What does a Kia Rio (2017) cost?
Kia Rio (2017): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of four stars
From the driver’s seat, the Kia Rio is both very nicely finished and intuitive. Material quality is good, with sturdy, durable plastics used in most places and a soft touch dashboard top for a bit of premium flourish. There is plenty of adjustment in the wheel and driver's seat, so getting comfortable is straightforward and the instruments are easy to read.
In the back row there’s a generous amount of space, with enough head and legroom for the average adult to get comfortable, provided those up front aren’t too tall. It is a small hatchback, so there isn’t an acre of room, but it’s not bad at all compared to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta.
The boot is bigger than you’ll find in those rivals too. Capacity is 325 litres which is plenty for weekly shopping trips. The load area itself is wide, but there is a load lip to lift heavy items over and while the rear seats fold down, they don’t form a flat load area. There is a little lip where the seats fold, so bulky items might snag.
Forego the basic ‘1’ model and you’ll get a touchscreen system which is responsive and simple to use. Move up to the ‘3’ and the system grows from 5-inch to 7-inch and gains navigation too, along with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to enable you to mirror smartphone apps like Google Maps in your touchscreen display.
But if you’re not into fanciful tech then the basic version comes with all the essentials. Air conditioning, electric front windows and Bluetooth connectivity are all standard, though there is no DAB radio. At the other end of the scale, the ’3’ model comes with artificial leather upholstery, heated front seats and even a heated steering wheel.
Standard Equipment (from launch):
1 comes with 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, front electric windows, remote locking, electric and heated door mirrors, 3.8-inch display, Bluetooth, auto lights, steering wheel audio controls, four-speaker audio system, hill start assist, emergency brake assist and front USB charging ports.
2 adds 15-inch alloy wheels, leather covered steering wheel and gear knob, rear electric windows, DAB radio, 5-inch touchscreen with reversing camera, reversing sensors, 3.5-inch supervision cluster, front and rear USB ports, cruise control, speed limiter, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, premium cloth upholstery and a front storage box.
3 gains 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control, artificial leather upholstery, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, tinted rear glass, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility plus voice recognition.
First Edition comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, steel pedal covers, black and read artificial leather upholstery, LED rear light and a coloured dash inlay.
Child seats that fit a Kia Rio (2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Kia Rio (2017) like to drive?
There are plenty of engine options for the Kia Rio – but we’d recommend the 100PS T-GDI petrol. It has a decent 171Nm of torque from 1500-4000rpm, so there’s lots of low-down punch to help with overtakes and slip roads, plus it’s very quiet and has official economy of more than 60mpg.
It works very well with the Rio whether in town, on the motorway or on a country road. It’s also available with 120PS, but there’s not much need to pick that version, since the 100PS option is such a good all-rounder. If you cover a lot of miles then a diesel might be a better fit and there are two 1.4-litre options to pick from, with 76PS or 90PS.
You can also get 1.25-litre or 1.4-litre petrol engines, but they’re old designs that are coarse and need to be worked hard, so we’d give them a miss. The only exception is the 1.4-litre automatic, which is a traditional, smooth torque convertor that works well in town, but the drawback is poor official economy of around 45mpg.
Around town is where the Kia Rio should feel most at home and it does for the most part. However, the suspension isn’t great at lower speeds. It thumps over broken surfaces and potholes and struggles to deliver a smooth ride. It does improve at speed, but unless the road surface is perfect you’ll still notice the odd wobble here and there.
On the plus side, the handling is good. Through corners, the steering is accurate and body control is very good. It’s not as enjoyable to drive as a SEAT Ibiza or a Ford Fiesta, but it’s still fun on the right road. It’s good on the motorway too with little in the way of noise and plenty of overtaking power, provided you pick one of the turbocharged engines – either the 1.0 T-GDI or 1.4 CRDi.
Active safety technology includes autonomous emergency braking, which can sense an impending accident and brake automatically, plus lane departure warning that alerts the driver when they are drifting out of their lane on the motorway. Both systems are optional on the basic ‘1’ trim level and standard on the rest of the range.
|1.0 T-GDI||55 mpg||-||117 g/km|
|1.0 T-GDI DCT||52 mpg||-||124 g/km|
|1.0T GDI||57–60 mpg||-||102–107 g/km|
|1.1 CRDi||79 mpg||-||94 g/km|
|1.25||51–60 mpg||-||109 g/km|
|1.4||50 mpg||-||114 g/km|
|1.4 Automatic||45–46 mpg||-||140 g/km|
|1.4 CRDi 76||81 mpg||-||92 g/km|
|1.4 CRDi 89||74 mpg||-||98 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Kia Rio (2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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