KIA has been more than busy during 2016 and their model offensive has carried forward into 2017. 2016 saw the launch of many new Kia cars, including, the KIA Niro and the KIA Optima SW. Now, the brand has just released the brand-new KIA Rio to the Irish market. Changes on the car are big enough and what we have now is a more refined and more defined car. The Tiger Nose appears slimmer, the car is longer (10mm more in wheelbase, 15mm in length) and it has become a more practical supermini than before. This car faces immense competition from a rake of well-known and excellent superminis like; Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, Skoda Fabia, Mazda2, Honda Jazz and the Volkswagen Polo. The changes in the new KIA Niro were needed, and considering that KIA sold 450,000 Rio models during 2016 (which accounted for 15% of the company’s annual sales), it might be time for the Rio to rise in Ireland.
At launch, the new KIA Rio is available with a 1.4 litre diesel engine with a choice of two outputs - 77bhp or 90bhp. In terms of petrol, there is a 1.25 litre 85bhp model, and this is likely to be the volume seller. There will be a 1.0-litre engine, but at the time of writing, this vehicle has not landed in Ireland yet. On-paper, the four-cylinder petrol model will bring you from 0-100km/h in 12.9 seconds and KIA tells us that it has an average fuel economy of 4.8 litres per 100km. The more powerful diesel model will take you from 0-100km/h in 12 seconds, while the 77bhp model will cover the same distance in 14 seconds. None of these cars are what you'd call supreme performers, but they stack up well in comparison to other superminis.
Our first drive of the KIA Rio was short, but we did manage to drive both the 1.4 diesel and the 1.2 petrol briefly. For the moment (until we get a longer test drive), we will say that Rio is well grounded and it offers good grip on corners. The steering is direct but lacks a bit of feel. The suspension set-up (fully-independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle) responded well to the country roads that we tested the vehicle on. However, other than a few speed ramps, the roads we were on were not overly rough. We are yet to drive the new KIA Rio where it belongs - in the city. Our full test drive is pencilled in for the summer, and we will update this section then.
In terms of refinement, there appears to be a bit of road noise, but it's no worse than most other cars in the segment. The 1.4 diesel engine is grumbly on start-up, but once it gets going, the sound seems to even out. The 1.2-litre petrol option is a lot quieter. Appearance-wise, the KIA Rio certainly looks more refined than before, and we think that the rear looks quite like the Citroen C4 or the Peugeot 308.
The interior of the KIA Niro compares very well with the rest of the segment. While there may be a fair amount of hard plastics in the cabin, the look good. The infotainment system doesn’t look amazing, but it does have good functionality. The seats are made of nice cloth and the models we were driving had what looks like a honey-comb grille etched into them. Both of our test cars has USB and 12V points to the front and a USB point to the rear. Kia's seven year warranty is another sign of this car reliability.
This car has not yet been tested for the NCAP, but we’ve been told that the model with Kia’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) will probably get a full five stars. Once we receive information on their EURO NCAP scores, we will add them here.
Because the new Rio is longer than the outgoing model, there is more legroom than before. The boot also offers a competitive 325 litres of space – which means that it offers more than the Fiesta, Corsa and Mazda2. The Honda Jazz and Skoda Fabia still offer more though.