Kia Rio (2017) Review
Kia Rio (2017) At A Glance
The Kia Rio that arrived in 2017 continued the upwards trend of this Korean firm in terms of styling, quality and appeal. While it may not have the outright desirability of a Volkswagen Polo or the deft handling of a Ford Fiesta, the Rio is a very sound, safe and dependable choice for anyone looking for a supermini as their main car or a second string family workhorse. Low running costs make it ideal for anyone on a tight budget, while the engines offer more than 60mpg based on which one you choose. All that in one of the most spacious small hatches available.
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Like so many reality television stars, Kia has been on a journey over the past few years and the Rio that arrived in 2017 throws this into sharp relief. Where so many of Kia’s cars are now among the sharpest-suited in their classes and unafraid to break with convention – Stinger, XCeed, ProCeed anyone? – the Rio is the counterpoint to all of this.
Does that make the Rio boring and all Captain Sensible? Well, yes, but that’s no bad thing when all you want is a very reliable, dependable and, well, sensible supermini. The fact it comes with a superb warrant, good engines, plenty of equipment and keen pricing is all to the good as well.
Cost-effectiveness is at the core of the Rio’s being and economy is strong, with almost every engine officially capable of more than 60mpg. Go for a diesel when buying used 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.
Kia has also attempted to spritz up the Rio a bit with the GT Line trim that arrived in early 2018 and then the GT Line S. The GT Line comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black and chrome snout that Kia refers to as a ‘tiger nose’ and LED front lights. Okay, so it’s no hot hatch to take on the Ford Fiesta ST, but the GT Line does add a modicum of pizzazz to what is, we’ll grant you, a very worthy but somewhat dull line-up.
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.