Kia Rio vs VW Polo

Downsizing to an eco-friendly supermini can slash your costs. But does Kia’s ultra-efficient new Rio demand any compromises? We find out as it meets the VW Polo

Kia Rio vs VW Polo

Buyers often need to make compromises when choosing a new car, but some models demand more than others. In the past, those drivers looking to maximise economy have needed to make more sacrifices than most, yet the latest generation of eco-friendly models is better than ever.

The newest fuel-sipping kid on the supermini block is the Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi ecoDynamics 2. It sits above the £11,895 entry-level ecoDynamics 1, which promises 88.3mpg economy and incredibly low CO2 emissions of only 85g/km.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Rio

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Yet our ecoDynamics 2 model is still very green. Its tiny three-cylinder engine comes with stop-start technology, and claims fuel economy of 75mpg and sub-100g/km emissions. It carries a price of only £13,795.

Of course, this isn’t a new or groundbreaking formula – it’s something Volkswagen has been perfecting for years. The Polo BlueMotion is the pinnacle of the company’s fuel-efficient range. As with the Kia, it offers a spacious cabin and five doors, but even lower CO2 emissions as well as claimed economy of 80.7mpg. This does come at a price, though, because the Polo is the more expensive choice.

The question is, which one represents better value for money and demands fewer compromises of buyers?

Verdict

If this test was decided purely on fuel economy, the Volkswagen Polo would be an easy winner. The BlueMotion is remarkably efficient, and yet still offers an upmarket interior, solid build quality and a desirable badge.

But in its single-minded pursuit of efficiency, the Polo has become a flawed and compromised choice. The engine is gruff, the ride is firm and you don’t get very much kit as standard. Factor in the high price, and it’s difficult to make a case for the BlueMotion.

In contrast, the Rio is extremely efficient and emits less than 100g/km, while remaining an attractive, well conceived and generously specified supermini. It’s also good to drive, spacious and backed by Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty. If you’re looking for a zero-compromise way to reduce your motoring bills, the Rio ecoDynamics is just the ticket.

1. Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics 2

On this evidence, it’s hard to find fault with the Rio. It’s attractively priced, well equipped and good to drive. And while its smooth 1.1-litre diesel is short on pace, it compensates with decent fuel returns and tax-busting emissions. The icing on the cake is the car’s seven-year warranty and great-value service pack.

2. Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 1.2 TDI

Some buyers will be persuaded by the Polo’s strong image, excellent fuel returns and classy cabin alone. But the high price tag, gruff engine, compromised driving dynamics and limited amount of standard equipment make it difficult to recommend the BlueMotion in this encounter.

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