The Kia Rio feels impressively grown up for a supermini, thanks to its spacious, stylish interior. It’s good value, too.
Long gearing hampers flexibility and the car is nowhere near as comfortable or as agile as a Ford Fiesta.
On the road
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There’s a choice of two diesels, a 1.1-litre and a 1.4, and two petrols, a 1.25 and a 1.4. All models have long gearing which blunts flexibility and means only adequate performance is on offer up to cruising speed. The diesels require too many revs to really get going, making them hesitant around town. The petrol versions are easier to live with. Once up to speed though, even the 1.1-litre diesel will pull sixth gear with reasonable conviction.
Ride & Handling
The Rio’s suspension has a firm edge and struggles with bumps and potholes, so the ride never feels totally settled. The Rio is far from being as sporty or agile as a Ford Fiesta, but it’s assured at speed: body control, grip and the feelings of safety and stability are better than in most superminis. The pitfall is its steering, which is curiously weighted and numb.
The petrol engines are a little on the boomy side, and things get worse the harder you work them. The diesels are worse still – even at tickover, there’s too much noise and vibration. At higher speeds, the racket from the engine is joined by the sound of the tyres slapping on the road, and the gearshift is notchy, too. It’s a shame, because wind noise is well contained.