What's the used Kia RIO like?
Shrewd car buyers are always looking for a good deal. And, if you don’t mind what badge sits on the front of the car, you could be one of them. Kia has been making waves among the more established brands for a number of years now. In fact, the current Rio gets very close to matching its key competitors, but it manages to do so while offering strong equipment levels at a competitive price.
The choice of petrol engines is between a smooth but slow 83bhp 1.25-litre unit, a 98bhp 1.4-litre engine that is the only one available with an auto gearbox and a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre that can be found in 99bhp or 118bhp forms. There are also 76bhp and 89bhp versions of a 1.4-litre diesel for those who want maximum fuel economy.
To drive, the Rio is safe and sensible. You won’t be having a barrel of laughs, but the manual gearbox is slick to use, the steering is light around town and weights up progressively as speeds build, and the car feels stable on the motorway. Road noise can be quite loud over rougher roads, but even on smoother Tarmac the Rio isn’t as quiet as the Polo. The low-speed ride in town is firm, but this does improve on faster roads.
You won’t find any soft-touch plastics inside, but it is all very well screwed together. Everything is placed where you’d expect it to be and you get the sense that Kia has tried to ape VW: the white numbers, red needles and chrome surround used on the speedo and rev counter are carbon copies of the ones you’ll find in a Polo. However, the infotainment screen on 1 and 2 trims is on the small side and isn’t as easy to use as it could be on the move. It’s a shame, because it limits the usefulness of the standard reversing camera on 2 models. You’d need to upgrade to 3 for the largest 7.0in screen along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone capability.