NATHAN MA

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

ONCE upon a time ‘‘cheap and cheer­ful’’ meant a Dat­sun 120Y with a smi­ley face painted on. Thank­fully, a few decades on, the Kia Rio is in the pic­ture.

You could go for the ul­tra-cheap base model for $12,990.

Spring for the four-speed auto for about $17,400 drive away and you’ll be a lot more cheer­ful than those who cheaped out on a base model when you in­evitably get stuck in traf­fic.

But the Rio doesn’t stop at be­ing cheap— it goes out of its way to save you money. Even with the 1.6-litre four cylin­der en­gine (there’s also a 1.4-litre), speed­ing tick­ets will be the last thing on your mind.

That’s be­cause you’ll start to feel sorry for it at about 6000 RPM — at which point you’ll be do­ing be­tween 40 and 50km/h.

It can han­dle 100km/h, just give it time to get there and don’t be shy about putting the foot down on hills.

But you’re not buy­ing a cheap car to break the sound bar­rier. If you’re de­ter­mined to do so you could try driv­ing it off some­thing very, very tall — but that would void the Rio’s fiveyear un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres war­ranty.

A small en­gine saves money on petrol. Who could fault fuel econ­omy of 6.8 litres/100km?

The Rio will suit those who want a car to go from A to B. It ranges from av­er­age to bril­liant on this front.

Han­dling in tight spa­ces, such as shop­ping plaza car parks, typ­i­fies the lat­ter. Com­bine the re­spon­sive steer­ing with its com­pact size and you can look for­ward to fi­nally get­ting that Holy Grail car park near the doors.

But when you’re fin­ished bar­gain hunt­ing with all the money you’ve saved buy­ing a cheap car the small

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