What's the used Kia Rio hatchback like?
Previous generations of the Kia Rio earned a reputation for being rather dull in the way they looked and drove, but with the third-generation model the company upped its game considerably, and at the same time set mainstream European models firmly in its sights.
This Rio’s styling was a great improvement on what had gone before, with a bold front-end and a sleeker roof line. Its longer wheelbase gives it rear legroom that’s among the best in the class.
The boot is actually slightly bigger than you’ll find in the equivalent Volkswagen Polo, though fractionally smaller than the Ford Fiesta’s, while all models have split-folding rear seats. Interior quality is also step up on the previous Rio, if still not quite up to the standards of rivals’.
However, in terms of driving dynamics, the Rio falls short of the best in class for handling and road holding. The ride is also on the firm side, both around town and on the motorway.
But Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty goes some way to make amends for this as a used proposition, as does the Rio’s five star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Four engines are available – two petrols and two diesels – and with low CO2 emissions (as low as 85g/km for the 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics model), decent fuel economy and several trim levels to choose from there’s a Rio for every budget. Although, it was initially available only as a five-door, a three-door model was added in 2012 to appeal to younger buyers.
What used Kia Rio hatchback will I get for my budget?
The Kia Rio has proved quite resistant to depreciation and while prices start at £2500 this will be for a car that has covered considerably more than 100,000 miles. Up your budget to £4000 and you will have a choice of either petrol or diesel and a full service history, but you’ll still be looking at a car that’s covered 75,000 miles or so.
If you have upwards of £6000 to spend, you will have an extensive choice of three- and five-door models to choose from, including the special edition VR7 trim. These cars will have several years’ warranty remaining and make a sensible used purchase.
If you simply must have the range-topping ‘4’ trim level with its plentful equipment, then you’ll need to spend at least £8500 on your Rio.
How much does it cost to run a Kia Rio hatchback?
With low CO2 ratings and impressive on-paper economy, especially for the 1.1-litre diesel, a seven-year warranty plus affordable dealership servicing costs, the Rio should be the epitome of quality motoring on a tight budget.
All 1.1-litre diesel models cost nothing to tax, while the larger 1.4-litre diesel attracts a £20 a year VED rate. The 1.25-litre petrol will cost £30 a year to tax, but watch out for the 1.4-litre petrol, especially if equipped with the automatic gearbox which incurs a jump in car tax to £145 per year.
Fuel economy ranges from a class-leading 88.3mpg for the 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics, although do note that if air conditioning is added to the car’s specification, this is immediately reduced to 78.5mpg. The larger-engined diesel is almost as frugal at 70mpg while the 1.25 petrol will return 56.5mpg. The 1.4 petrol with the automatic gearbox can only manage 44mpg.
While the claimed figures look good, real fuel economy is more in line what you’d expect of a car of this class; 55-60mpg from the 1.1-litre diesel and low 50s from the 1.4-litre diesel, or about 45mpg for the 1.25 petrol. An automatic 1.4 will return just 35mpg.
All Kias come with a seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty which helps to take the sting out of any unexpected repairs, but do make sure it’s still valid and become familiar with the terms and conditions.
Some first owners will also have opted for a Kia Care-3 or Care-3 Plus servicing package which covers servicing costs for three- or five-years and can also be transferred to a new owner.
Finally, depending on your budget, it could pay to search for an approved used Rio from a franchised dealer, because all Kias sold through this scheme come with a full seven-year warranty, just as a new Kia would.
Which used Kia Rio hatchback should I buy?
A large proportion of Kia Rios are equipped with the 1.1-litre diesel, with owners hoping the advertised economy figures would be achievable, but the most common complaint is that these figures are just not possible in normal day-to-day driving. Combine this with the fact it feels underpowered and we would instead recommend going for the more powerful 1.4 diesel, which combines decent performance with good economy.
If you’d rather go for petrol power, the 1.25-litre unit is a decent performer, if not ultimately as strong as the diesel.
Trim levels are a straightforward 1, 2, 3 and 4, with the latter only coming to market later in the Rio’s life. There were also special edition models, the SR7 and VR7. A 1 is fairly basic, a 2 adds air conditioning, 16-inch alloys, electric mirrors and more upmarket trim, while a 3 brings 17-inch alloys, climate control, heated seats, cruise control and a better audio system. The range-topping ‘4’ comes with leather upholstery, keyless go and a heated steering wheel. All Rios are equipped with Bluetooth and a CD player.
Our favourite Kia Rio: 1.4 CRDi 2 EcoDynamics
What alternatives should I consider to a used Kia Rio hatchback?
Others to consider include the Ford Fiesta which offers class-leading dynamics and is a much more entertaining drive, although rear headroom isn’t as good, and the Peugeot 208 which scores well for its low running costs and decent performance, if not the poor ride and low equipment levels on entry-level models.
The Volkswagen Polo is another worthwhile contender in this class with excellent build quality, a roomy interior and low running costs.
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