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New Kia Rio supermini to 'four' with more grown-up feel

PUBLISHED: 12:09 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:09 24 February 2017

Kia has high hopes for its new Rio supermini which feel more grown up as the brand aims to be taken much more seriously. Pictures: Kia

Kia has high hopes for its new Rio supermini which feel more grown up as the brand aims to be taken much more seriously. Pictures: Kia

Kia

The new fourth-generation Kia Rio enters an incredibly tough market segment. Simon Davis gets behind the wheel to find out if it's got what it takes.

Kia has high hopes for its new Rio supermini which feel more grown up as the brand aims to be taken much more seriously. Pictures: KiaKia has high hopes for its new Rio supermini which feel more grown up as the brand aims to be taken much more seriously. Pictures: Kia

As Kia’s best-selling car globally, the South Korean manufacturer has high hopes for the fourth-generation model. The popular supermini feels more grown up in a bid to help potential buyers view the brand in a much more serious light.

Looks and image

The new Rio holds its own against European rivals. The ‘tiger nose’ grille, larger 17in alloys and red metallic paint on the First Edition test car looked particularly smart.

Kia Rio interior looks smart with a driver-friendly fascia. Pictures: KiaKia Rio interior looks smart with a driver-friendly fascia. Pictures: Kia

Move inside and this trend continues. Flagship First Edition features a sporty red and black two-tone colour scheme, leather seats and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Build quality is sound and it’s largely a tidy place to sit.

Space and practicality

Up front, headroom is abundant, and all major controls are within easy reach of the driver. Passengers, six feet or more, in the back will find their heads brushing the roof but kneeroom isn’t bad, even long-legged occupants up front.

Kneeroom in the back of the Kia Rio is good but headroom is tight for six-footers. Pictures: KiaKneeroom in the back of the Kia Rio is good but headroom is tight for six-footers. Pictures: Kia

The Rio is more suitable for ferrying around children so just as well the interior feels well screwed together.

Boot space has risen 325 litres, putting it mid-class, and fold the rear seats down and it grows to a respectable 1,150 litres.

Behind the wheel

Kia Rio has a decent 325-litre boot. Pictures: KiaKia Rio has a decent 325-litre boot. Pictures: Kia

The Rio may not be as fun or exciting to drive as the Ford Fiesta, Britain’s best-seller, but a new suspension set-up and stiffer body make for greater composure through corners, without ruining the ride on uneven surfaces so it deals with often shocking British roads remarkably well.

Both 99 and 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi engines are punchy, responsive and impressively quiet at motorway speeds. Other engines are 83bhp 1.25 and 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol, the latter also in automatic guise, and 76 and 89bhp 1.4-litre turbo diesels.

Manual gearboxes are slick and precise, steering combines weight and feel and visibility is good which, with rear parking camera and sensors on the test cars, makes parking a breeze.

Value for money

First Edition is smart but expensive at £17,445 – the slightly cheaper 3 spec is better if you want lots of toys as standard including 16in alloys, black faux leather, touchscreen display with satellite navigation, rear parking camera and sensors and smartphone connectivity through Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and USB.

Mid-range Rio 2 makes sense too – the 99bhp 1.0 T-GDi, five-speed manual at £14,995 loses sat nav but has rear camera and sensors, DAB radio, cruise control, USB ports, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Ideal as a second car or small runabout, most people will be enticed by the Rio’s solid build quality, decent standard equipment and impressive seven-year warranty.

Final say

The new Rio is a competent car and gets the job of being a car you can depend on done with ease.

TECH AND SPEC

Price: Kia Rio First Edition 1.0 T-GDi £17,445 (range from £11,995)

Engine; 1.0-litre, 118bhp, three-cylinder turbo petrol producing 232Nm of torque

Performance: 0-60mph 9.8 seconds; top speed 118mph

MPG: 60.1 combined

CO2 emissions: 107g/km

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