Kia Rio review

Category: Small car

Section: Performance & drive

Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 front left tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 RHD dashboard
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear seats
  • Kia Rio 2021 RHD infotainment
  • Kia Rio 2021 right panning
  • Kia Rio 2021 right panning
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 front seats
  • Kia Rio 2021 boot open
  • Kia Rio 2021 front left tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 RHD dashboard
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear seats
  • Kia Rio 2021 RHD infotainment
  • Kia Rio 2021 right panning
  • Kia Rio 2021 right panning
  • Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking
  • Kia Rio 2021 front seats
  • Kia Rio 2021 boot open
What Car?’s Rio deals
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In this section:
  • Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
  • Suspension and ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Noise and vibration

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

At the bottom of the Kia Rio range is a 1.25-litre petrol engine (badged 1.25 ISG) with a meagre 83bhp; we suspect this will feel out of its depth out of town, but we're yet to try it. Next up is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 99bhp (badged 1.0 T-GDi), and this is our pick of the lineup. It’s as flexible as the small turbo engines you’ll find in the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia and has the legs to sit comfortably at motorway speeds. 

You can also opt for a more powerful 118bhp version of the same 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine, badged 1.0 T-GDi 48V. The latter bit of its name signifies that it uses mild-hybrid technology; there’s a small electric motor and battery to add a little electrical ‘kick’ to the engine as you drive around. The assistance it provides is very mild, however, and you won’t notice it unless you’re pushing on particularly hard, so we don’t think it’s worth the additional outlay.

Things improve at speed, but even on roads that look smooth, you’ll feel yourself moving up and down more than you would in rivals. The larger 17in wheels of top-spec models make things even worse – we’d stick with the 16in wheels or smaller.

Kia Rio 2021 rear tracking

Handling

One upside of the ride’s distinctly firm edge is that the Rio stays nicely upright even when taking on winding country roads. Its steering is quick, too, making the car feel quite darty when turning into a bend. 

However, what you won’t find through the steering wheel is much feeling as to what the front wheels are doing. For a more enjoyable driving experience, a Fiesta is far more fun.

New car deals
Save up to £1,036
Target Price from £14,100
Save up to £1,036
or from £206pm
Swipe to see used and leasing deals
Nearly new deals
From £12,995
Leasing deals
From £166pm