Used Car

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents -

It’s a good time to look at the pre­vi­ous-gen Kia Rio.

En­gine: 1.4-liter petrol I4 Trans­mis­sion: 4-speed au­to­matic

Power: 106hp @ 6,300rpm Torque: 135Nm @ 4,200rpm

Es­ti­mated econ­omy: 6.5km/L (city); 16-18km/L (high­way)

Price new: P838,000 (1.4 EX Hatch­back) Price now: P360,000 (est.)


The Kia Rio has al­ways been rather stylish, but the brand kicked things up a notch with the Schreyer-styled third­gen­er­a­tion car launched lo­cally in 2012. While still re­tain­ing a taxi vari­ant, the range was op­ti­mized for the ‘life­style’ mar­ket, with the range-top­per be­ing the fully loaded EX hatch­back seen here. With its puny 106hp 1.4- liter en­gine and four-speed au­to­matic, it’s no scorcher, but it’s still pretty sweet. And with the new Rio out on the mar­ket, now might be the best time to snap one up.

Value and costs

The Rio launched in 2012 with a 1.2- liter LX sedan, a 1.4- liter EX sedan with ei­ther a four-speed auto or a six-speed man­ual, and a 1.4- liter EX AT hatch­back. Prices for the sedan started at P578,000, while the top-of-the-line hatch went for P838,000. In 2013, an up­graded EX-S sedan was in­tro­duced, at the same price as the hatch.

Se­cond­hand LX units (those that aren’t taxis with a mil­lion kilo­me­ters on the clock!) are avail­able for around P260,000 to P280,000. Early EX hatch­backs go for up to P100,000 more. Not quite Honda Jazz ter­ri­tory, but bet­ter than many ri­vals.

Be­cause Hyundai and Kia are sis­ter com­pa­nies, the Rio and Ac­cent are me­chan­i­cal twins. This means en­gine fil­ters, spares, and even cos­metic cov­ers are in­ter­change­able. While the Ac­cent got a CVT (along with the ‘up­graded’ 99hp 1.4- liter mo­tor) as early as 2013, the Rio car­ried on with a four-speed slush­box un­til it bowed out ear­lier this year. Sus­pen­sion parts are sim­i­lar, but given that the Rio has higher damp­ing rates than the Ac­cent, us­ing Hyundai parts would be a down­grade!

Ex­te­rior and in­te­rior

The Rio’s ex­te­rior is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of Schreyer de­sign, with wide, blis­tered fend­ers and smart Euro styling. While the smooth con­tours of the sedan aren’t quite as sharp as those of some com­peti­tors, the hatch­back is still one of the most at­trac­tive shapes on the mar­ket.

On the in­side, the big float­ing con­sole cov­ered in shiny sil­ver and matte-black plas­tic mer­its an im­pres­sive first im­pres­sion. There’s mul­ti­ple bins and pockets for gad­gets and dual 12V power points for charg­ing, even on the base taxi vari­ant. Seats are firm and sup­port­ive, with hard-wear­ing fab­ric cov­ers. Look out for dash­board rat­tles and dam­aged fin­ishes, be­cause the plas­tic bits wear quite eas­ily on high-con­tact sur­faces—an is­sue com­mon to Korean cars.

This EX is loaded with good­ies, like push-start ig­ni­tion, rain-sens­ing wipers, cli­mate con­trol, USB and aux-in con-

nec­tiv­ity, and tiller-mounted au­dio and cruise-con­trol buttons. These fea­tures only ap­peared on the EX-S sedan in 2013.


With a 106hp 1.4- liter Gamma en­gine, the Rio doesn’t have a lot of power for a mod­ern (read: heavy) sub­com­pact, and the four-speed au­to­matic doesn’t im­prove things. Long gear­ing does make up for the lack of over­drive on the high­way, but don’t ex­pect bet­ter than 6.5km/ L in heavy traf­fic. The 1.2 LX, while lack­ing high­way legs due to a short fifth gear, does about 2-3km/ L bet­ter in stop-andgo driv­ing. The 1.4 EX MT sedan isn’t as good in the city, but it boasts an ul­tra­long sixth gear for high­way use.

If you’re look­ing at 1.2- liter units, check for un­usual clutch wear. For 1.4liter units, it’s more important to lis­ten for en­gine knock, which is a typ­i­cal is­sue with the Hyundai-Kia Gamma en­gine. De­tect­ing it can help you knock a few bucks off the ask­ing price, and us­ing 95- oc­tane en­gine should min­i­mize the prob­lem.

Driv­ing im­pres­sions

Proper damp­ing keeps the Rio buttoned down over high-speed un­du­la­tions, un­like the wob­bly Ac­cent. Vis­i­bil­ity in the hatch is bet­ter than in the sedan, which has a ridicu­lously tiny rear slot over the tall trunk. An­other bonus of the five-door lay­out is frisky han­dling on the right kind of moun­tain road. The 17in wheels paired with 45- se­ries tires on this unit make for sure­footed han­dling—at the ex­pense of road noise and poor ride com­fort over rough metro roads. The steer­ing is fin­ger-light and lack­ing in feed­back, but it works a treat when nav­i­gat­ing both hill­side hair­pins and tight park­ing lots.


While lack­ing the power of bet­teren­dowed ri­vals, the Rio is a solid lit­tle car. If the 1.4- liter vari­ants are a bit too pricey for you, the smaller-en­gined Rio is a cheap and wor­thy al­ter­na­tive to more main­stream fare like the 1.3- liter Vios. But if you don’t mind the ex­tra gas bills, the EX hatch is still one of the classi­est lit­tle cars around.

A head-turner, thanks to Peter Schreyer

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