In-depth reviews

Kia Rio review - Interior, design and technology

While it's well built, the Rio's plain looks and a dark interior hurt the car's appeal

Kia has made no bones about its desire to push the Rio upmarket, tasking its German and Californian design studios with the challenge of injecting its supermini with some premium appeal. 

With its solid proportions and smooth curves, the newcomer is clearly a more grown-up proposition than before, but it also looks rather ordinary. Under the skin, the Rio follows the same template as its mainstream rivals. There’s an all-new platform with a longer wheelbase and greater strength, but the chassis features the same strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle as the VW Polo

Climb aboard and it’s clear the brand’s designers have tried to give the cabin a mature look like the exterior. The dashboard features a heavily sculpted design that flows into the doors, while the silver-trimmed climate controls look like they are heavily influenced by those used in Audi’s smaller models. Unfortunately looks are deceptive, and closer inspection of the plastics reveals a hard and brittle finish that’s a long way behind the Polo.

Still, there’s lots of kit on the Rio 3, with sat-nav, a heated steering wheel and seats, climate control and a reversing camera. Also included is faux leather trim, but it looks and feels rather low rent. 

Sat-nav and infotainment

Entry-level Rio 1 models get a standard radio and CD unit with Bluetooth connectivity, while Rio 2 versions add a five-inch touchscreen. Step up to the Rio 3 and you get the flagship infotainment system that boasts sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Also included is a seven-inch touchscreen interface that’s easy to navigate and responds well to inputs, but it’s hobbled by blocky and dated looking graphics. Hooking up your smartphone is straightforward, and once it’s linked you can make calls and stream music. There’s also a voice control function.

You can also use the system to create a Wi-Fi hotspot, while the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto allow you to make use of the services already installed on your phone. Other handy features include a reversing camera with guidelines, plus there’s a pair of 12V power connections and a USB port for handy charging.

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