Driven: Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi

Tuesday, 3 January 2012 12:09 PM

Kia Rio Surf

Don't get too excited; this babe-in-brown Kia Rio "Retro Surf" is a one-off custom-build for Kia, to show off their new Rio at the recent SEMA tuning show in Las Vegas. Yum!

Value for money and good design don’t often go together.

But the third generation Kia Rio hatchback, launched in March last year, shows that it can.

With a side profile not that dissimilar to the well-styled and curvaceous Seat Ibiza or Leon, the range starts from around £10,500 and rises to just under £15,000.

From inside the Rio 1.4 diesel tested is a little noisy on start-up putting it in similar territory to my 2002 plate 1.4-litre diesel Ford Fiesta. It also judders when stationary and could do with a little more sound proofing inside. 

Due to seasonal empty roads there’s adequate opportunity to travel at just 56mph during my 50-mile commute and still arrive at my destination with plenty of time to spare. Usually I have to drive like a bat out of hell, which doesn't help the environment or my pocket. The reason you buy a 1.4 diesel is for efficiency and the little Rio doesn’t let you down here, easily delivering 50mpg - the manufacturer claims it will return a combined reading of as much as 69mpg, but I feel this a little optimistic.

The air conditioning automatically comes on each time the ignition is turned, which might be fine in the summer but wholly unnecessary in the winter. There doesn’t seem to be any way of switching this off. However, overall the well-designed interior is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate your way round. The seats are supportive, good quality fabrics have been used, there’s a decent driving position and the six-speed gearbox is pretty decisive. 

Parkers, the car experts, writes: “Kia’s latest Rio is no longer the wallflower of old, with a new look and the potential to unsettle European rivals. It isn’t as aggressively styled as its sibling, the Picanto, but its striking ‘bow-tie’ grille and large headlamps give the front end a bold stance. The swooping roofline gives it a coupe look, making this Rio much more eye-catching. It’s longer, lower in height and wider than its predecessor, so the new Rio has grown up in more ways than one. Kia has pitched the Rio into the midst of a very competitive class. Its rivals include the Renault Clio, Peugeot 207, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo and class-leading Ford Fiesta - but they all have a fight on their hands with the new Rio.”

A “real” Kia Rio. Still a pretty cool-looking car though…

Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi

Top speed: 108 mph
0-60 mph: 14.4sec
Economy: 68.9mpg (combined)
Power: 89bhp

New price range: £10,595 - £14,895

By Tim Saunders

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