New Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi manual '3' road test review from Danielle Bagnall
3 March 2017
Overall score: 3/5
+ Comfortable + New, much-improved exterior design + Supermini that’s not so mini + Good on fuel, but uncertainty around diesel at the moment - Pricey supermini if you want all the mod-cons - Not exactly ‘fun’ to drive - Gear knob construction a bit ‘plastic’
The very first Kia Rio graced UK roads back in 2000, and even then it offered a good amount of space for the price tag. The all-new fourth generation Kia Rio is, though, above and beyond any of its predecessors. Its fourth generation receives the biggest changes to date, with an all-new platform and a new turbocharged engine range.
This new redesigned platform makes way for more space inside, while the new turbocharged engines aid in improved performance. Carbon emissions are respectable with all variants coming in below 110g/km (except the 1.4-litre petrol unit). The two available diesel variants both come in below 100g/km.
For the purposes of this review, our test mule is the 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel unit, and power delivery is somewhat respectable. It certainly has ‘get up and go’ with its 240lb ft of torque, but the diesel unit is still lacking in terms of refinery. It’s still rather loud and can be quite revvy. Our model comes in with an on-the-road price of £17,245, which we feel is rather high. What with diesel changes coming in and all, you’d have to do a hell of a lot of mileage to justify that initial outlay and increased tax.
Driver seat functions mean that driver positioning is good. You can adjust the seat front and back, as well as raising it up and lowering it to what’s comfortable for you. The steering wheel can also be moved up, down, forwards and backwards, as well. Once you’re all set up with your seat, you notice the gearstick is in a comfortable position, but unfortunately lacks feel. We hate to say it, but it does feel cheap and plasticy. Overall visibility is good to the front, but falls down a little in the back. The rounded shape to the back window doesn’t help too much, but doesn’t cause a major problem; especially when you have a rear-view camera and reversing sensors (available on specifications ‘2’ and up).
The steering is very pleasant. It’s weighty enough at higher speeds so you can feel it, without being overly heavy, and it’s direct meaning tight corners aren’t a problem.
Overall comfort of the drive is fine. It can be a little bumpy, due to the stiff suspension but this means the car is a little more planted when it comes to cornering. It may be an option to go for a smaller wheel size to aid in the reduction of harsh road effects.
In terms of emissions, both diesel units perform well coming in at just under 100g/km of CO2 emissions – great news for any company car buyer.
Road and wind noise is at the level you’d expect from a supermini, but isn’t overly concerning.
It’s in the exterior design where we see most aesthetic changes. The shape of the fourth-generation Kia Rio is much more angular than its predecessor, creating sportier lines and a much more aggressive and sporty demeanour. Updated to fit in with recent aesthetic changes in the range, the Rio looks so much better.
With competition from the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia, the Kia comes into its own with its technology offerings. Our test model, the Rio 3, features a new easy-to-use 7-inch touchscreen system, complete with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As well as Bluetooth connection and USB charging ports front and rear. Climate control is also featured, along with faux leather (not your usual cheap faux leather, these feel good to the touch, as well as being comfortable on long journeys) heated seats to the front. The ‘3’ also gets a heated steering wheel and automatic wipers with two settings.
The interior may lack high-end quality, with hard plastics being used a lot, but it does have a quality feel in the fact that it feels it’s been built to last, with all parts being fitted together well.
The Rio really does have generous amounts of room for what is classed as a small car. Head and leg room are respectable and the rear is generous enough for a couple of adults, due to its roofline design. Three adults on the rear bench at one time may be a struggle, however. Storage levels are also good, with cup holders to the centre, arm rest compartment, door card stowage (to all doors) and a good-sized glove box. The rear bench folds to a 60/40-split, meaning it doesn’t fold completely flat, but coupled with the generous boot (larger than both the Ford Fiesta and the Renault Clio, for example) is plenty of space for transporting larger items or lots of shopping.
There are currently no Euro NCAP results for the Kia Rio, however its predecessor received five stars so we’d hope the new one would follow in the same footsteps. Lane keep assist and auto braking is standard on all models, bar ‘1’.