Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Kia Rio review

The Kia Rio offers good value and practicality, but it's a safe pair of hands in a talented supermini class

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Price
£12,135 to £17,615
  • Decent practicality, punchy turbo petrol engine, seven-year warranty
  • Unexciting design inside and out, firm ride, mixed cabin quality

The Kia Rio has come on in leaps and bounds since the no-frills first generation car was launched. Unfortunately, the current fourth generation model isn’t a huge step on from the Mk3. It has an evolutionary design inside and out, merely average ride and refinement, and some hard, cheap-feeling interior plastics all hurt its cause in the hugely competitive supermini class.

Still, the Korean supermini has a number of selling points. It’s reasonable value, top models feature a tech-filled touchscreen and there's a decent amount of space for passengers. The 1.0 T-GDi turbo petrol engine is our range highlight, offering strong performance and efficiency. The Rio also comes with Kia’s seven-year warranty. It’s just a shame that the firm played it safe with the Rio’s styling, meaning it fails to stand out in this hard-fought sector.

The Kia Rio is a supermini that has a tough battle on its hands. While the current car is the best version yet - and light years ahead of the Rio Mk1, which was sold as a budget saloon or estate from 2000-2005 - it has a tough battle to pick up sales in the class.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

While the original Rio stood out for all the wrong reasons, the Rio Mk2 (2005-2011) established it as the firm's supermini, while the Mk3 (2011-2017) put Kia's styling stamp on the car, as well as delivering fuel efficiency and standard kit that helped it stand out in the crowd.

The Rio Mk4 arrived in 2017, with styling that was an evolution of the Mk3 and more of the tech and quality that supermini buyers have come to expect from these cars. Those new lines feature a more prominent 'tiger nose' grille, while the interior has improved switchgear and all bar the most basic model come with a touchscreen infotainment system as standard.

The Rio range comprises the straightforward 1, 2 and 3 specifications, while the occasional limited edition crops up from time to time. At launch, the First Edition was offered, which is essentially what will become the Rio 4 once it's no longer on sale.

Advertisement - Article continues below

All cars come with at least air-con, electric heated door mirrors, Bluetooth, auto lights and LED daytime running lights, while 2 cars feature 15-inch alloys, cruise control, a colour touchscreen with DAB radio and better speakers, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Go for 3 spec and you get fake leather, auto wipers and an upgraded seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The First Edition brings 17-inch alloys, keyless entry and LED rear lights, which will also appear on 4 trim. Prices range from £12,000 to around £18,000.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Best superminis on sale

Four engines are offered in the Rio, three petrol and one diesel. There's a 1.25-litre petrol, a 1.4 and Kia's low emissions but powerful 1.0 T-GDi turbo three-cylinder in two power outputs. You can't get every engine in every trim, with the most powerful 118hp 1.0 T-GDi only coming in First Edition/4 trim, and the 99hp version only offered in 2 and 3 trims. The 1.25 comes in 1 and 2 trims, while the 1.4 comes in 2 and 3 specs, too, with an auto gearbox optional on the 1.4 2 and standard on the 1.4 3.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Diesel isn't as popular as it once was in the supermini sector, and while Kia used to offer one of the most economical cars on sale in the shape of the Mk3 Rio CRDi, the current 1.4 CRDi is only offered in 2 and 3 trims with 76hp and 89hp respectively. The lower powered diesel has claimed economy of more than 80mpg. All versions of the Rio are front-wheel drive

There are many supermini rivals to the Kia Rio, and a lot of these have been updated or replaced since the Rio arrived in 2017. Chief among them are the UK's best-selling cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, while the SEAT Ibiza, Citroen C3 and Nissan Micra have come on in leaps and bounds over their predecessors. Elsewhere, the Hyundai i20 is closely related to the Rio, while the Toyota Yaris is a sensible choice that has been given a bit of an update to keep it competitive. The Mazda 2 offers a sporty drive, while the Vauxhall Corsa is a great supermini that can be had at a heavily discounted rate and the Skoda Fabia is well worth considering.

For an alternative review of the latest Kia Rio Hatchback visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

Advertisement
Advertisement

More on Rio

Visit/kia/rio/102426/kia-rio-gt-line-to-debut-at-geneva-motor-show
Kia Rio GT-Line - front
Kia Rio
7 Mar 2018

Kia Rio GT Line debuts at Geneva Motor Show

The fourth-generation Kia Rio supermini gains a sporty exterior and kit upgrades for flagship GT Line spec
Visit/kia/rio/101079/kia-rio-best-small-automatic-cars
Kia Rio - front static
Kia Rio
2 Oct 2017

Kia Rio - best small automatic cars

Practicality and a seven-year warranty help put the Kia Rio supermini into our top 10
Visit/kia/rio/100177/new-kia-rio-pulse-special-edition-comes-with-one-years-free-insurance
Kia Rio
19 Jul 2017

New Kia Rio Pulse special edition comes with one year's free insurance

Additional tech, styling and equipment fitted to special edition Kia Rio Pulse
Advertisement
Visit/kia/rio/98706/kia-rio-vs-volkswagen-polo-vs-suzuki-baleno
Kia Rio vs Volkswagen Polo vs Suzuki Baleno - header
Kia Rio
25 Feb 2017

Kia Rio vs Volkswagen Polo vs Suzuki Baleno

We see if the latest Kia Rio can shake up the supermini market as it meets VW Polo and Suzuki Baleno
Visit/kia/rio/98519/new-kia-rio-14-diesel-2017-review
Kia Rio 1.4 CRDI 3 - front action
Kia Rio Hatchback
3 Feb 2017

New Kia Rio 1.4 diesel 2017 review

The new Kia Rio will be more popular with petrol power, but how does the 1.4 CRDI diesel drive?
Visit/kia/rio/96782/new-2017-kia-rio-full-prices-and-specs-revealed
New Kia Rio revealed in Paris 2016 front
Kia Rio
30 Jan 2017

New 2017 Kia Rio: full prices and specs revealed

Kia has lofty ambitions for its new supermini, on sale now in the UK. We've got all the prices and engine details right here.
Visit/kia/rio/98451/new-kia-rio-2017-review
Kia Rio - front action
Kia Rio Hatchback
30 Jan 2017

New Kia Rio 2017 review

All-new version of the Kia Rio supermini arrives with its sights set on the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo
Visit/kia/rio/96534/new-kia-rio-could-get-sporty-gt-version-with-3cyl-turbo-power
Kia Rio Hatchback
1 Aug 2016

New Kia Rio could get Sporty GT version with 3cyl turbo power

Kia's new Rio supermini could get a hot Rio GT version with a 3-cylinder turbo engine according to engineering boss
Visit/kia/rio/20545/2011-2017-hatchback
Kia Rio 2015 front
Kia Rio Hatchback
24 May 2016

Kia Rio review (2011-2017)

The Kia Rio is a decent-value supermini, with a long warranty and efficient diesel engines. But rivals are more fun
Advertisement
Visit/kia/rio/91259/kia-rio-2-2015-review
Kia Rio 2015 front
Kia Rio Hatchback
23 Apr 2015

Kia Rio 2 2015 review

Can light refresh keep Kia Rio supermini fighting fit in competitive class?
Visit/kia/rio/90396/kia-rio-sr7-review
Kia Rio Hatchback
11 Feb 2015

Kia Rio SR7 review

Previously badged VR7, the Kia Rio SR7 is a special edition supermini that adds loads of kit for not much cash
Advertisement
Visit/kia/rio/89918/new-looks-and-extra-kit-for-refreshed-kia-rio
Kia Rio 2015 front
Kia Rio
6 Jan 2015

New looks and extra kit for refreshed Kia Rio

Updated Kia Rio supermini gets revised styling and more standard kit. Prices start from £10,345
Visit/kia/62943/kia-provo-revealed
Kia provo front
Kia
5 Mar 2013

Kia provo revealed

Kia has unveiled this stylish MINI-rivalling provo coupe concept at the Geneva Motor Show
Visit/kia/rio/61062/kia-rio-final-report
Kia Rio front static header
Kia Rio Hatchback
5 Nov 2012

Kia Rio: Final report

Our long-term Kia Rio is half the price of an Aston Martin bike, but it makes twice as much sense
Visit/kia/rio/59714/kia-rio-third-report
Kia Rio header
Kia Rio Hatchback
22 Aug 2012

Kia Rio: Third report

Eco-focused Rio supermini is being cleaned up in the hands of our products writer
Advertisement
Visit/kia/rio/19461/kia-rio-second-report
Kia Rio header
Kia Rio Hatchback
1 Aug 2012

Kia Rio: Second report

Our Kia Rio supermini makes it big on a miniature race track
Visit/kia/rio/19451/kia-rio-first-report
Kia Rio header
Kia Rio Hatchback
30 May 2012

Kia Rio: First report

Supermini joins our fleet – and it’s already impressing with its refinement and space
Visit/car-reviews/14522/kia-rio-vs-ford-fiesta
Kia Rio vs Ford Fiesta
Kia Rio Hatchback
21 May 2012

Kia Rio vs Ford Fiesta

Many rivals have tried and failed to take the Ford Fiesta’s supermini class crown. Can the latest three-door Kia Rio buck the trend?
Visit/car-reviews/14486/kia-rio-vs-vw-polo
Kia Rio vs VW Polo
Kia Rio Hatchback
19 Dec 2011

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 t…
Visit/kia/rio/18540/kia-rio-11-crdi-ecodynamics
Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics front cornering
Kia Rio Hatchback
15 Dec 2011

Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics

We get behind the wheel of the cleanest Kia Rio on sale, that promises 88mpg
Visit/kia/rio/18477/kia-rio-11-crdi
Kia Rio front tracking
Kia Rio Hatchback
4 Nov 2011

Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi

We drive the most frugal and road tax-free version of the new Kia Rio
Advertisement
Visit/kia/rio/18429/kia-rio-14-crdi
Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi front tracking
Kia Rio Hatchback
30 Sep 2011

Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi

Is the big-capacity diesel the best version of new Rio supermini?
Visit/car-reviews/14461/kia-rio-vs-rivals
Kia Rio vs Vauxhall Corsa vs Renault Clio vs Ford Fiesta
Kia Rio Hatchback
5 Sep 2011

Kia Rio vs rivals

The new Kia Rio is making a big noise in the supermini class. Can it outshine rivals from Vauxhall, Renault and Ford?