KIA Rio-Smoother, sharper… Eric Barton presses the pedal on the new Kia Rio

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This new fourth generation Kia Rio is slightly longer and squatter than the previous model.

Designed by a team at Kia’s design centre in Germany it has cleaner and sharper cut lines, together with boasting a smoother surface. Under the bonnet, the new Rio has been given a new European focused downsized 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot petrol engine. No bad thing.

This new model promises to bring the Rio right up to date and in line with the likes of other comparable cars in similar ranges like the Fabia, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio. Inside the cabin there’s a new approach to the fascia design and a clear focus on providing new connectivity features. And, by way of grabbing your attention, there’s even a new emphasis on dynamic sophistication for the Rio. Kia has heralded the labours of its chassis engineers in introducing more adept handling, crisper steering, greater driver appeal and a more enjoyable ride it terms of comfort.

The Rio has been stretched by 10mm in the wheelbase and by 15mm in overall length. You might not imagine you’d notice that kind of difference, but combine it with a longer bonnet and front overhang, a shorter rear overhang, a roof that has been lowered by 5mm and a C-pillar that’s much slimmer and more upright than it was, and it begins to explain why the new car appears hugely changed in comparison to the old model. The Rio does look a lot better when viewed from either the kerbside or as a drive by. There’s also a more convincing air of elegance and maturity about it than it just being a designers’ ‘add-on’ as a third-generation model. There’s certainly no laziness in the way they’ve gone about both its looks and performance. There are four petrol engines and two diesels to choose from. The entry-level 1.25-litre petrol produces 83bhp while the larger 1.4 makes 98bhp, and plumping for the latter gets you six speeds in your manual gearbox instead of five. Further up the engine range come the new 99bhp and 118bhp Kappa-branded 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo petrol’s, if you prefer a diesel engine under the bonnet, the choice is from two tunes of the same 1.4-litre CRDi four-cylinder unit, producing either 76bhp or 89bhp and emitting as little as 88g/km of CO2.

The Kia Rio’s stylish interior.

Kia’s improved build quality provides a pleasant surprise in the last generation. The driving experience in the Rio is on the easier side of pleasant, rather than a harsh challenge. It’s not a ‘racy’ encounter by any means because it’s not meant to be. Its more sedentary than nimble. Comfort and ease are its clarion calls, making the overall driving experience agreeable and not too challenging. Dull would be too strong and exhilarating would be totally out of place. It does what it’s supposed to do. The cabin materials feel much like the same collection of plastics that adorned the previous car. No great change whatsoever, but in car that’s priced to sell and deliver reasonable levels of quality versus build and interior costs that’s no great surprise. Its all down to… ‘you get what you pay for’.

The Kia Rio comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, just like all other models from the brand. That means it’s best-in class in this area, easily beating the three-year period you get as standard on most European and Japanese superminis. It’s a huge selling point and one that delivers piece of mind in spades.

Factoids!

On the road £16,785

Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDI ‘3’ Eco

998cc

Extra Urban 68.9 mpg

Top speed 115mph

0-60 10.3 secs

To book a test drive and more info

www.wessexgarages.com/kia/contact/gloucester/

Tel 01452 228458