This new Kia Rio diesel is the cleanest and most fuel-efficient non-electric car on sale.
The Rio's average economy of 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 85g/km show what’s possible with the latest small diesel engines. Rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo don’t get close to its figures.
The key to the efficiency of the Rio is a new 1.1-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel, along with a host of fuel-saving measures such as aerodynamic tweaks, low-rolling-resistance tyres and an engine stop-start system.
What’s it like to drive? First impressions are dominated by the new engine. It’s noisy and rattly on start up, and there’s a lot of clatter when you accelerate. At least it quietens down at a steady cruise.
The engine delivers a healthy 125lb ft of torque between 1500rpm and 2750, so it’s reasonably flexible and you can pick up speed on the motorway without having to change down from sixth gear.
The steering is curiously weighted, though, and vague around the straight-ahead position. The aerodynamic measures include lowered suspension, which makes the ride less forgiving than it is in other Rios.
What’s it like inside? The cabin is attractive and well built, although the dashboard plastics are harder than those in pricier versions of the Rio.
The fact that you don’t get air-conditioning unless you upgrade from to 1 to 1 Air trim is another issue, especially because the upgrade cuts fuel economy to 78.5mpg and pushes CO2 emissions up to 94g/km.
More positively, all of the controls are well laid out and easy to use.
There’s also plenty of room for four in the cabin, and a good-sized boot.
Should I buy one? Many buyers looking at this type of car will concentrate hard on the figures and less on the niggles. Do this and the 1-spec Rio 1.1 CRDi Ecodynamics makes a compelling case.
It’s a stylish and roomy supermini that offers better economy and emissions than rivals', and a list price that’s at least £2500 lower. You also get the reassurance of Kia’ seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
What Car? says…
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