As part of the South Korean manufacturer's philosophy of manufacturing 'quality cars at value prices' the Kia Rio does its job well.
But like anything that comes tagged as 'value' it does have its shortfalls. Value can often mean cheap and nasty and while the new Rio is anything but nasty, you do get what you pay for. The Rio has been Kia's top-selling export vehicle since January 2001. Kia likes to think its buyers are both 'economically sensitive and appearance conscious'.
As part of the car's evolution, Kia has made a number of revisions to the car, including ride and refinement and enhanced safety features.
And what's more, you probably won't pay a penny extra for them. Prices have yet to be finalised but they are likely to be the same as for the current model line-up, which ranges from £5,995 on-the-road for the 1.3 to £8,995 for the 1.5 SE. Automatic versions of the LX and SE cost an extra £750. There are no plans to produce a diesel model.
Kia's executives hope the car will appeal to young families and first-time buyers, aged between 25 and 35 years old. It also makes a great second car, they stress. Like the current model, the new Rio comes as a four or five-door model and with two petrol engines, a 1.3-litre and a 1.5. Buyers get a three-year warranty and three-year roadside assistance cover.
Modifications for the new Rio include a restyled front grille, wider headlamps, a roomier interior and better safety features.
Kia predicts the first full-year sales for the new model in 2003 will top 5,500 units. This year, for the current model, sales are likely to reach about 4,000 units. The Rio competes against the likes of the Skoda Fabia and Hyundai Accent.
Behind the wheel
THE Rio is probably best for nipping round town but it swallowed up the steepish hills around Barcelona during our test drive with little effort, although you can hear the engines working hard beneath the bonnet.
I drove both versions and for some reason I preferred the smaller-engined car – you don't expect as much from it and it actually sounded more refined.
The Rio's interior is acceptable, and for its price acceptable means good, with the plastics feeling durable enough. It was reasonably comfortable and felt roomy in the front, although during a spell as a rear seat passenger in the 1.5-litre version, legroom was cramped. Aimed at families though, it will do the kids just fine. Bootspace in both versions is good, certainly enough to ensure you don't have to leave behind any of the associated paraphernalia required for a family day out.
The driving controls are easy to negotiate and feel suitably sturdy. Build quality overall was impressive. On flat open roads the Rios performed well. Steering wasn't perfect but it was light and fairly well-controlled.
It's not the prettiest car but it's not hideous by any means. As a low-budget vehicle the Kia Rio is fine and offers adequate space for a young family. The badge-conscious are unlikely to choose one, but those on a budget should give it some consideration.
|Kia Rio fact file|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||80/5,500||96/5,500|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||86/3,000||97/4,500|
|Max speed (mph):||102 (auto: 99)||108 (105)|
|0-62mph (sec)||14.2 (17.2)||12.3 (14.1)|
|Comb fuel consumption (mpg)||42.8 (40.9)||36.7 (35.3)|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||157 (183)||163 (191)|
|Service intervals (miles):||10,000 (or 12 months)|
|On sale:||January 2003|
|Estimated prices (OTR):||1.3 £5,995, 1.3 L £6,895, 1.3 LX £7,645, 1.5 SE £8,995|