In the first week of June, local motoring journos were formally introduced to the latest incarnation of Kia’s popular hatch, the all-new Kia Rio. We took the top-of-range 1.4 TECH model for a spin around the streets of Joburg on an average weekday afternoon, giving us a fairly accurate idea of how the vehicle delivers as an upscale city run-around.
Four models – three updates to the outgoing range (the Rio 1.2 LS Manual, Rio 1.4 EX Manual, and the popular Rio 1.4 TEC Manual) as well as one new addition, the Rio 1.4 LX Manual – are available in eight different colours. All of these come with a host of standard features, which are increased as you move up the range toward the TEC model. A four-speed automatic transmission can be added to any of the 1.4-litre models at an additional R13k.
The word “progressive” was bandied about a lot at the launch and it’s easy to see why. The design of the all-new Kia Rio is characterised by straight lines and smooth surfaces for a far stronger, more aggressive look than its predecessor. The latest version of Kia’s “tiger-nose” grille and more striking head- and taillights add to this powerful impression.
The dash is designed around the Rio’s new floating Human-Machine-Interface console, which is where you’ll find your 7.1” touch-screen infotainment system (Android and Apple ready) in high-end models and your radio and multimedia player in the 1.2 LS and 1.4 LX models. The dashboard now curves away from the passenger toward the driver and the instrument gauges are also angled slightly toward the driver. This creates a sportier look while also increasing spaciousness for passengers.
Increased headroom, legroom and shoulder-room make this model more spacious than its predecessor. Luggage capacity has been increased to 325 litres, plus the tailgate has been widened and lowered to facilitate loading. The slimming of various sections of the cabin, including the C-pillar, has greatly increased both ergonomics and visibility.
Moving under the hood, very little has changed from the third to the fourth generation, which features two engine types and four specification grades. Essentially, the torque has been lowered whilst everything else has remained the same, making for a more comfortable driving experience with less frequent gear changes. The 1.25-litre five-speed manual puts out 62 kW and 120 Nm of torque while the 1.4-litre six-speed manual produces 74 kW and 135 Nm.
Overall, the all-new Kia Rio is a very smooth ride, perfectly suited to its purpose as a sporty city slicker. The steering is feather light and the road handling is solid, so the Rio manoeuvres effortlessly through traffic. The fourth-generation Rio does what its predecessor did, just better. You’ll enjoy driving it and you’ll look really good doing so – proof that B-segment cars don’t have to compromise on sex appeal. What’s more, the sweetest part of the deal is the price, which is almost identical to that of the outgoing model. This improved product for the same price makes the Rio a highly competitive option.
- Rio 1.2 LS Manual R 219,995
- Rio 1.4 LX Manual R 234,995
- Rio 1.4 EX Manual R 249,995
- Rio 1.4 TEC Manual R 274,995