When the new Kia Rio was launched, it was a step up from the previous model. Not only has the new model set the standard of what is to come in the future for cars in this class, but it also competes pretty well with cars that are specced similarly, on paper anyways.
The KIA Rio 1.4 Tec looks sporty. There is no denying that. From the aggressive front nose area, with integrated daylight running lamps, to the projector-type headlights and spotlights, you could mistake this car to be something a little bit more expensive. The 17 inch wheels, wrapped in Continental sport contact rubber running 205/45/17 tires, fills the arches pretty nicely. The high-polished wheels just give the car an aggressive look and by the looks of on-lookers, they could mistake the car for a Golf 6 GTI when you look quickly. The rear also features a small boot spoiler that sits neatly above the window, almost unnoticeable.
The interior is where this car shines. The seats feel rather sporty and almost bucket-like. Although a little hard, they complement the theme of the car well. The multifunction steering wheel lets you control the audio settings as well as the integrated hands free Bluetooth system, which you need to setup from the in-car audio centre setup menu. The Speedo is back-lit in neon white while the on-board computer, and the rest of the car, has a red back-lighting. The on-board computer features a dual trip, estimated moving time, estimated fuel range, current fuel economy and overall fuel economy info. Fairly useful if you are like me and like seeing what the car is doing. The car audio has 6 speakers; 4 in front, tweeters and full range, and 2 in the rear. Although the overall sound is good, it lacks a little in terms of depth and vocal acoustics. However, the average listener should be satisfied. It also features Mp3 playback via cd or USB/iPod.
There is an additional 12v jack in the front, which is quite nifty as I always find myself unplugging the cigarette lighter and sticking in my cell phone charger. Now you don’t have to sacrifice the cigarette lighter for your charger, if it’s a permanent fixture like in my car.
There is also rear park distance control and headlight leveling, all adjustable from inside. The park distance control can be deactivated at will.
The A/C controls work wonders. The Rio has climate control, which is almost a little hard to believe at a price like this. It seems that the Koreans are trying to lure the mainstream Japanese buyers to their side of the market with these little features.
The only downside is the dash, which seems a little too plastic-like. It’s something I would be able to live with as the rest of the interior really makes up for it.
The Rio Tec features a 72kw Dohc engine with variable valve lift and has a claimed 0-100kph of around 11seconds. Its top speed is also around the 180kph mark, not bad for a 1.4.
The 1.4 motor does exactly what is asked of it. All be it at not the greatest pace. The car is a little disappointing in terms of performance, but you can’t expect earth shattering performance, just because a car looks fast. It accelerates well through the rpm range, right up to redline and in the event that you plan to overtake, you sort of need to work the gearshift a little. The gear ratios feel a little tall, but it is in favour of fuel economy. I’m pretty sure the demographic of the vehicle is the younger crowd with not the biggest fuel budget and they would be pleased to hear that the Rio is pretty economical. On average driving we returned 6.5l/100km and while driving at 100kph constantly on the freeways, we returned 5.3l/100km. This is pretty good for a petrol vehicle. The fuel tank is 43l and you can expect a range of around 600km under normal driving conditions.
The suspension is sporty and combined with the 17inch wheels maybe a little choppy. This is another reason why I think the vehicle is aimed at the younger crowd. Handling is not bad, there is some body roll, but it’s not excessive. It’s a pretty good balance between sporty and comfortable.
The Kia Rio 1.4 Tec is a great sporty looking car with some good qualities and a great interior. If you need a sporty looking car and you don’t need GTI type power, the 1.4Tec would be a great contender at the list price of R171 995. The normal service intervals are 15 000km and it also has a 5 year 100 000km warranty.
For more in-depth specification and your nearest dealer, please go to www.kia.co.za