KIA RIO (TERM RE­VIEW)

Liv­ing with Rio

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG | Im­ages © KIA SOUTH AFRICA

You can learn a lot about a car in seven days, the usual pe­riod al­lo­cated for an of­fi­cial road test by most lo­cal OEMs. But ev­ery so of­ten an ex­tended test drive is granted, for a more in-depth un­der­stand­ing of a ve­hi­cle.

With this in mind, we spent a month criss­cross­ing Gaut­eng in the range-top­ping Kia Rio 1.4 Tec ver­sion, do­ing ev­ery­thing that any reg­u­lar owner of a Rio would do.

We didn’t get around to do­ing ev­ery­thing you could in a Rio, but enough time be­hind the wheel has proven that the big lit­tle su­per­mini has a lot to of­fer buy­ers in what is a heav­ily con­tested mar­ket seg­ment in South Africa. Ri­vals like the new Volk­swa­gen Polo and freshly in­tro­duced Ford Fi­esta pro­vide com­pelling ar­gu­ments and have huge mar­ket­ing bud­gets be­hind them, but the Kia has per­son­al­ity aplenty, and holds its own against other ri­vals in­clud­ing the Mazda3 and the age­ing Honda Jazz.

OUR TEST CAR

The Driven test car, a gen­er­ouslyspec­i­fied top model 1.4 Tec, is an over­all well put to­gether car that feels solid and com­posed. The in­te­rior, beau­ti­fully evolved from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion is tac­tile and gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned for pas­sen­gers and lug­gage alike.

This is key, be­cause in a mar­ket con­tin­u­ously buy­ing down to get bet­ter value, get­ting as much bang for your buck, and space for your fam­ily, is su­per im­por­tant.

On top of that, looks mat­ter since a car is ul­ti­mately an emo­tional pur­chase along with all the other prac­ti­cal rea­sons why we need wheels. And the Rio doesn’t dis­ap­point, both in­side and out.

There is also the small mat­ter of stan­dard spec.

“RI­VALS LIKE THE NEW VOLK­SWA­GEN POLO AND FRESHLY IN­TRO­DUCED FORD FI­ESTA PRO­VIDE COM­PELLING AR­GU­MENTS AND HAVE HUGE MAR­KET­ING BUD­GETS BE­HIND THEM, BUT THE KIA HAS PER­SON­AL­ITY APLENTY’’

Gen­er­ally, Kia’s ve­hi­cles of­fer good value, al­though big­ger mod­els such as the Sportage have been crit­i­cised for be­ing on the ex­pen­sive side in the past. Com­pared to its ri­vals, the Rio 1.4 Tec might not be the cheap­est, but its mid­dleof-the-road price be­lies the load of ex­tras thrown into the mix. This in­cludes a sun­roof, semi-au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol and, our per­sonal favourite, Ap­ple CarPlay.

There are dif­fer­ent en­gine op­tions avail­able on the Rio, in­clud­ing both a 1.2 and 1.4-litre en­gine. Our test unit was pow­ered by the 1.4-litre en­gine, mated to a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. With 74 kW of power and 135 Nm of torque, this lit­tle 1.4 per­forms well in var­ied con­di­tions.

We took it high­way cruis­ing and mall crawl­ing through­out our test, trans­ported up to four adults on reg­u­lar oc­ca­sions, and gen­er­ally did what we set out to do in the be­gin­ning: live life with the car for a month or so.

Nat­u­rally, while spend­ing time in the Rio is fun, spend­ing money on main­tain­ing it is not. Given that we cov­ered many miles un­der dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, we couldn’t achieve as fru­gal fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures as the 5.8-l/100 km that Kia of­fi­cially quotes for the man­ual 1.4 Tec model. In­stead, the near 7-l/100 km we man­aged seemed to be the sweet spot av­er­age dur­ing our test pe­riod, which we be­lieve is fair given the vary­ing cir­cum­stances.

LAST WORD

Kia has done a great job with the Rio, we’ve said so when we first drove the car at its Aus­tralian re­veal in 2017, and later the same year when it hit lo­cal show­rooms.

Zon­ing in on a spe­cific model has given the Driven team an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally get to know the car, with all its quirks. Would we buy one, even in the face of stiff com­pe­ti­tion? In­deed yes, it of­fers value on pa­per and will have you liv­ing your life in style from the very first kilo­me­tre.

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