Lit­tle touch of lux­ury

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - COVER STORY -

It gets fac­tory-fit­ted leather seats and glass sun­roof. The range-top­ping Rio SLi’s leather trim and sun­roof bring a touch of lux­ury to this main­stream model. Other ex­tras in­clude fac­tory-tinted rear glass, cruise con­trol and night-time turn­ing lights — when you in­di­cate at low speeds, an ex­tra lamp tem­po­rar­ily il­lu­mi­nates the cor­ner you’re about to turn into, quite a deft touch.

listed drive-away price is steep. Kia’s web­site says the SLi is an eye-wa­ter­ing $26,500 drive­away (metal­lic paint at $520 pushes it over $27,000). That’s thou­sands dearer than cars in the next class up (Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai i30). We reckon you ought to pay no more than $21,300 drive-away (which is still steep) based on the $5100 dis­count on the base Rio S. Such a dis­count is not at the dealer’s dis­cre­tion as there is not that much profit in cars in this price bracket — the deal on the S is sup­ported by Kia head of­fice. So if you want an SLi, ask the dealer if Kia will ex­tend the bonus from the base car to the SLi.

For all the lux­ury, there is no sen­sor key. There are smart­phone pair­ing and rear-view cam­era but you still get an old-school ig­ni­tion slot in the steer­ing col­umn and a flick key. A sen­sor key and push-but­ton start would help jus­tify the pre­mium price.

still as cheap to ser­vice as the base model. Be­cause it has the same 1.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine (matched to a four-speed auto), it has the same low ser­vic­ing costs, fair intervals (12 months/15,000km) and seven-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty as the Rio S, which aced the field for value and won our city car com­par­i­son ear­lier in the year.

fine to drive but not quite the class bench­mark. It’s roomy, good-look­ing and good to drive but it isn’t as ra­zor-sharp as, for ex­am­ple, the Mazda2 or Suzuki Swift. But the Rio is a com­fort­able city car, soak­ing up bumps well. It also feels safe and se­cure on the road, although the wet weather grip of the tyres could be bet­ter.

Joshua Dowl­ing

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