Mini isn’t too tinny

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARSGUIDE - Chris Ri­ley

1 Looks can be de­ceiv­ing

The en­try model may look just like its more ex­pen­sive sib­lings but it has a smaller 1.4litre en­gine and comes stan­dard with a 6-speed man­ual. The auto is $2000 and is an old­school four-speed when some ri­vals have six-speeds. Rear doors bump the price up $1000 and the al­loys that came with our test ve­hi­cle are part of a Pre­mium kit that costs an­other $700 and in­cludes fog lights, cruise con­trol, height ad­justable seat belts, elec­tric fold­ing side mir­rors with turn in­di­ca­tors and two ex­tra speak­ers. Pick the Pre­mium for the cruise con­trol, es­pe­cially if you spend a lot of time on the mo­tor­way.

2 Size isn’t ev­ery­thing

The 1.4-litre en­gine ac­tu­ally goes well and will re­turn about 7.0L/100km in the real world. But the four-speed auto comes with the usual is­sues, in that it’s not as sharp and spends time hunt­ing be­tween gears. It’s live­able, though. If you want more siz­zle the Si model is worth con­sid­er­ing. For an­other $1800 you get five doors and a larger, more so­phis­ti­cated 1.6litre en­gine that’s more pow­er­ful and more eco­nom­i­cal. Si also comes with the 6-speed auto as stan­dard, to­gether with larger al­loys and other good­ies. 3 No cam­era is back­ward think­ing Rio had an up­date early last year. Style is of course a per­sonal thing but we’re not huge fans of the new rear bumper treat­ment with its acres of black plas­tic. The big­ger is­sue is no re­verse cam­era or park­ing sen­sors of any kind. It won’t be long be­fore a cam­era be­comes manda­tory for a car to qual­ify for a five-star safety tag — that time can’t come soon enough.

4 There’s no sporty ver­sion

Kia canned its Pro­ceed GT hot hatch a few months ago. The two-door turbo Koup is still avail­able, from $28,990 but that leaves some room for a cheaper per­for­mance hatch to take on the likes of the Ford Fi­esta ST. It’s been sug­gested a sporty three-door Rio with a turbo could fit the bill and Kia ex­ecs over­seas have done noth­ing to kill the ru­mours. No com­ment from Kia in Australia though. 5 A new one’s on the way With an all new, fourth gen­er­a­tion Rio com­ing early next year, there will be some sharp runout deals of­fered, but it’s still worth shop­ping them against sis­ter brand Hyundai. The clos­est thing it has to a Rio is the Ac­cent, fit­ted with the same en­gines and trans­mis­sions. At the mo­ment a five-door Ac­cent costs the same as the three-door Rio, both with an auto. Hyundai’s smaller i20 was re­cently dumped from the lineup.

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