Kia has come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade and now offers one of the strongest mainstream car ranges.
The Rio is its attempt to wrestle sales from the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa.
Now in its fourth generation, it sits on an all-new platform and boasts an efficient range of engines. The South Korean company has thrown a pile of technology into the mix too, including automatic emergency braking and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system.
Under the watchful eye of design guru Peter Schreyer – formerly of Audi – Kia’s range has steadily improved its image.
The latest Rio is one of the nicest looking superminis, particularly from the front, where there’s a sharp nose and the now-signature Kia “tiger nose” grille.
The Rio range spans from around £12,000 to just under £18,000. That’s on par with its competitors but Kia tends to throw in more equipment than its rivals. Even entry level Rio models have Bluetooth phone connectivity, air conditioning and hill start assist.
I drove the range topping 1.4 diesel model in ‘3’ trim. Its equipment list would put many a Mercedes or Audi to shame, with heated seats and a heated steering wheel, automatic lights, rain sensing wipers, rear privacy glass and plenty more.
The Rio’s particularly spacious inside – only the ultra-roomy Skoda Fabia offers more interior space. Four tall adults can just about get in and the boot’s a good size too.
There’s a choice of four petrol and two diesel engines. I spent a week with the 1.4 litre diesel, which returns 74mpg. Unless you do huge miles, though, you’re probably better off getting the cheaper 1.0 litre turbo petrol model.
The Fiesta is the most fun to drive car in this class and the Rio does nothing to trouble its dominance there. Ride and handling are both fine but nothing to write home about.
It’s very easy to drive, however, and is a fantastic town runaround that’s fine for occasional long journeys.
Kia is one of the most reliable of all car brands and to underscore that the company offers a superb seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty that’s transferable between owners – so you can buy a four-year old car and still have three-years’ warranty left on it.
The Rio may not be the most dynamic model in its class but it shines in other areas. Space, value for money, technology and reliability all make it a car plenty of people will love.