Skip advert
Advertisement

Kia Rio CRDi LX

For the past two years, Kia has been telling us not to treat it as a budget manufacturer, and instead to line its models up against the mainstream class leaders. Well, the time for talk is over.

The Rio is the best Kia on sale in the UK. The Picanto gave us hope the Korean firm could build good small vehicles, and this model continues the trend. We still have issues with some aspects of the interior, but overall it feels well made, and the responsive diesel is the pick of the range. Few superminis deliver this much punch for just over £9,000.

Advertisement - Article continues below

For the past two years, Kia has been telling us not to treat it as a budget manufacturer, and instead to line its models up against the mainstream class leaders. Well, the time for talk is over.

The all-new Rio has just arrived here, complete with a punchy diesel engine. But has it got what it takes to rival Ford and Vauxhall in the supermini sales charts?

Study the Rio for the first time, and it's clear the designers have adopted an attitude of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. The car looks similar to the Fiesta - which was widely criticised for its styling when it first appeared. It's not ugly, but it could have done with more flair. Thankfully, the rear is smarter than that of its awkward predecessor, with clear indicator lenses and a curvy C-pillar.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Inside, the step up in quality is evident. A few hard plastics can still be found, and the leather steering wheel and gearknob feel cheap, but it's hard to fault the way it's screwed together.

The design is clean and fresh, helped by the silver trim in our top-spec LX car, and the switches are logically laid out. If only Kia would fit a proper radio instead of an aftermarket unit, the Rio would feel as good as many European rivals.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Thanks to a taller and wider body than the previous-generation machine, the new model is spacious, too, with lots of adjustment on the driver's seat allowing a comfortable position for all shapes and sizes. But the Rio's trump card is its diesel engine. For many buyers, the 1.5-litre unit's 60mpg economy will be a big enough incentive, yet it also offers an impressive turn of pace.

In-gear punch is near class-leading, while smooth and quiet cruising makes it a capable motorway car. Unfortunately, the Rio's chassis is less competent. The vague steering is off-putting in corners, while the gearbox is rubbery, too. After trying an early left-hand-drive model, we had been concerned the ride was a bit bouncy, but this has been cured, and the Rio is now perfectly capable of dealing with bumps and broken road surfaces.

As you'd expect with a Kia, the newcomer offers excellent value for money. For £9,295, you get metallic paint, a CD player, air-conditioning, split-fold rear seats and six airbags as standard. If you want traction and stability control, you'll have to add the £1,000 Dynamic option pack, which also includes a sunroof.

So it's an impressive package. Kia's image is on the up in the UK, and the Rio is a valuable addition to the range. It meets its rivals next week for a full group test, but it looks as if there's a new contender in the supermini class.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Giant Panda electrified! New Fiat Grande Panda arrives with EV and hybrid power
Fiat Panda - front
News

Giant Panda electrified! New Fiat Grande Panda arrives with EV and hybrid power

Hybrid and electric versions will be available – the same as its sister cars, the Citroen C3/e-C3 and Vauxhall Frontera
14 Jun 2024
Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land
Dacia Duster - front tracking
News

Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land

Owners have voted the Dacia Duster as the most satisfying new car to own in the 2024 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey
11 Jun 2024
Car Deal of the Day: 0% APR and £9,500 off a brand new, ultra-refined Mercedes EQE SUV
Mercedes EQE SUV - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: 0% APR and £9,500 off a brand new, ultra-refined Mercedes EQE SUV

A massive discount and no interest on Mercedes’ pure-electric luxury SUV is our Car Deal of the Day for 12 June
12 Jun 2024