Used Kia Rio 2017-present review

What is it like?

Kia Rio
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What's the used Kia Rio hatchback like?

Kia has been making waves amongst shrewd car buyers for a number of years now. The brand has done this by offering people cars that compare very favourably with more established rivals by providing lots of standard equipment at a competitive price. But the trump card for used buyers could be Kia's exceedingly long manufacturer's warranty, which helps to make a compelling argument for why you might choose a Kia Rio over small hatchback rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia.

The choice of petrol engines is between a smooth but slow 83bhp 1.25-litre unit, a 98bhp 1.4 and a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder pair with 99bhp or 118bhp. There are also 76bhp and 89bhp versions of a 1.4-litre diesel for those who want maximum fuel economy.

A five-speed manual gearbox is available on the 1.25, 99bhp 1.0 and 1.4 petrol engines; a six-speed manual is standard with both versions of the 1.4 diesel and 118bhp 1.0 petrol. Fans of two-pedal driving can get a six-speed automatic as an option on the 1.4 petrol, or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic on the most powerful 1.0-litre.

The entry-level 1 has air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity, but the 2 version is a better buy because it adds 15in alloy wheels, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance. GT-Line comes with most of the features of 2 but adds bigger (17in) alloys and sportier styling both inside and out. Heated front seats and steering wheel, faux leather trim, climate control, sat-nav, rain-sensing wipers and 16in alloys come as standard on 3. Finally, GT-Line S models come with keyless entry and start, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and blindspot detection.   

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 surfaces, the Rio isn’t as quiet as the Polo. The ride is firm around town, although this improves on faster roads.

You won’t find any soft-touch plastics inside, but it's 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 Volkswagen; 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 5.0in infotainment screen on 1 and earlier 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 (or look for a late 2018 2 model) for the larger 7.0in screen, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

The Rio is rather roomy up front with plenty of leg and head room. You may find yourself ocassionally rubbing shoulders with your passenger, but this is still a small car after all. Storage for odds and ends is impressive because there are many cubbies in the door cards, centre console and dashboard. You'll find more rear passenger accommodation than a Skoda Fabia, plus a more generous boot than a Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta. One mild criticism is that you don't have a variable height floor and will, therefore, have to lug items over a significant lip.

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Used Kia Rio 17-present
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