KIA RIO Si

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Head to Head -

VALUE

The Rio brings a lot to the party me­chan­i­cally but not in fea­tures. This gen­er­a­tion of Rio doesn’t get a touch­screen and the ra­dio and dig­i­tal driver’s dis­play are in old-school cal­cu­la­tor red. There are 17inch al­loys and cruise con­trol and the Blue­tooth con­nects read­ily. In the con­ven­tional Korean cabin, build qual­ity and (most) plas­tics and switchgear look and feel pre­mium. Lead­ing seven-year war­ranty pairs with seven years’ an­nual ser­vic­ing at about $2400 all up.

EN­GINE

Still no tur­bos among Rios. Noth­ing wrong with the di­rect-in­jec­tion 1.6-litre but, as it needs to rev harder than the Clio to do its best, it feels slower — and sounds thrashier — when pressed to per­form from a stand­ing start. It is more flex­i­ble on the move, thanks to a smooth six-speed auto that will drop a cou­ple of cogs when pro­voked. Of­fi­cial fuel use is 5.4L/100km; Carsguide got 6.7L.

DE­SIGN

Smart but no stand­out. The re­cent re­fresh gives a dis­tinc­tive ap­pear­ance with a nar­row-nosed grille and deeply straked air in­lets. Same can’t be said for the generic hatch rear. The in­side is spa­cious and the Kia feels more grown-up than the Clio, al­beit with more sub­dued pal­ette of trim op­tions.

SAFETY

The Rio comes with six airbags and five ANCAP stars. It was rated at 34.99/37, hav­ing lost a full point when a rear door was found not to be fully latched af­ter the side-im­pact test.

DRIV­ING

De­fault driv­ing is the Rio’s rea­son for be­ing. It is in­of­fen­sive and re­spon­sive on the school run or the sub­ur­ban slalom. Wind up the four-cylin­der and it is an en­thu­si­as­tic am­a­teur. The sus­pen­sion rightly favours city com­mutes over coun­try cru­sades, so it is gen­uinely sup­ple around town with pro­gres­sive roll as the pace picks up. It doesn’t set the world on fire but does the job ca­pa­bly. The switchgear feels good but is de­cid­edly old-fash­ioned. All-round vi­sion is good but a re­vers­ing cam­era would be re­as­sur­ing.

VER­DICT Con­ven­tional and less con­tro­ver­sial, the Rio does all things for all folks, right up to car­ry­ing four in com­fort and safety. That gives it the edge in this

con­test, even with­out the touchy-feely bits.

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