Superminis are big business. Look through the sales charts, and the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa outsell cars from virtually every other sector of the market.
These two household names exert a stranglehold over the entire class, but the new Kia Rio aims to break their dominance. The well equipped, efficient hatchback also comes with a brilliant seven-year warranty. Here we test the mid-range 1.4-litre 2 as it faces the biggest names in the sector.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Rio
The Fiesta 1.4 Zetec sets the standard here. It can’t match the Kia’s spec, and costs slightly more, but it’s blessed with sharp styling and unbeatable dynamics.
Next up is the Renault Clio. Its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine mixes performance and economy, while Dynamique TomTom trim comes superbly appointed.
The other big hitter in the sector is the revised Corsa. It’s better equipped and more stylish than ever, and while the 1.2-litre Excite trails on power and price, it claims the strongest economy here.
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It didn’t take us long to establish that the Fiesta was in for a scrap. Before we’d even driven the Rio out of the office car park, we knew it posed a formidable threat to the Ford’s supermini superiority. Not only is the new Kia great to look at, it’s also good to drive. Add in dependability, low running costs and its seven-year warranty, and you have a very appealing package. In the end, the Fiesta does enough to retain its crown, but only just. We could understand anyone choosing the Kia, but we think the Ford has a slight edge due to its sharp looks and polished chassis. That leaves the talented Clio to take third spot. Its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is the best powerplant in our line-up, but the car looks dated, the ride is too firm and you have to pay for the huge kit count. Fourth place goes to the Corsa, which feels like the oldest car, despite its recent makeover. Its gutless engine is off the pace and it is neither as fun nor as capable as the others. The lifetime warranty deal is its only stand-out feature.
1. Ford Fiesta
Although the Fiesta retains top spot, it emerges with a bloody nose. Sharp looks, low running costs, brilliant dynamics and a comfortable cabin bring it home.
2. Kia Rio
The best Kia so far runs the Fiesta closer than its rivals. It’s not as good to drive as the Ford, but get your skates on and you can save an extra £750 on the Rio.
3. Renault Clio
Turbo engine can still show competitors a thing or two, and the Renault comes with lots of equipment, too. Only the poor ride and dated looks let it down.
4. Vauxhall Corsa
The nation’s second-favourite supermini looks better than ever, but that’s not enough. The Corsa is slow, expensive and fails to live up to its economy claims.