Give in to the rhythm
. . . and go the Rio, Rio de Kia — it ticks all the light-car class boxes
NEW The Rio was the car that kicked Kia’s Australian sales into gear in 2000. Before that the cars from the Korean maker were known for their cheap- andcheerful pricing and little else.
In Si trim, it was Carsguide’s 2011 Car of the Year. Beyond the pricing the build quality was average at best and reliability wasn’t that great either. But as with other auto invaders that have landed here over the years, matters improved and the Rio was the car that led the way.
By 2011, when the new UB series Rio hit the market, Kia had undergone a transformation and its cars, the Rio included, were getting attention for the right reasons.
There were three models in the new Rio range, the S, Si, and SLi, and three body styles: three-door hatch, five-door hatch and four-door sedan.
All featured the new corporate grille and their clean, flowing lines and solid proportions added up to an attractive car by any measure.
Slide into the cabin and you were greeted by an equally attractive interior with comfortable seats, quality fit and finish, and appealing materials.
The cabin was light and airy with room enough for four adults in comfort, and five if needed. Add to that a roomy boot space, which could be expanded in the hatch by folding the rear seat.
Kia’s engine options were a 1.4‒litre four that powered the base model S, and a peppier 1.6‒litre for the Si and SLi.
Buyers of the S could choose from a four-speed auto and a six‒speed manual. Those who opted for the Si or SLi had the choice of a six-speed auto as well as the six-speed manual.
On the blacktop the Rio performed admirably, with good performance, particularly from the larger engine, and the responsive transmission. The ride was quite comfortable, the handling agile and responsive. NOW The good news for anyone thinking of buying a Rio is that the bad old days are long gone. You no longer have to justify your purchase on the basis it was cheap — current Kia cars are ones you want to own.
Better fundamental engineering and decent build quality add up to reliability and a more enjoyable ownership experience. These could not be guaranteed before the new generation models arrived.
We get few complaints about the Rio at Carsguide, which confirms the belief that the cars are hitting the mark with owners.
Quality of engineering and production go a long way to ensuring you get a good run from your car. But the other important consideration is service and maintenance, and for that you need to consult the service book to see that your chosen car has been serviced regularly and according to Kia’s recommendations.
The cam-timing belt needs to be changed at 100,000km, so make sure it has been if the car you’re thinking of buying has passed that mark. Also check the car’s electrics as these can fail. Ensure all systems — air, cruise, Bluetooth etc — are working before you sign.
The great thing about the Rio is that it had Kia’s five-year warranty, which means that even the earliest UB models are still covered by the factory. SMITHY SAYS The Rio ticks the boxes in the light-car class; it’s well worth adding to your shopping list.