The new fourth-generation Rio is a decent package and, in most respects, an improvement over its predecessor.
Sadly, though, it’s also taken something of a backward step. We are talking about the 1.4-litre engine now used in all Rio variants and the anachronistic four-speed auto it’s mated with (all models except the S manual).
The previous Rio only used that powertrain in the entry-level S specification, while other models including the mid-spec Si, were equipped with a perkier 1.6-litre engine and a smoother, more up-to-date, six-speed auto.
In the new car, the engine’s maximum power has been shaved to 74kW, a drop of 5kW.
Performance from the new-comer is adequate, though a relative lack of torque in the low and mid-rev range causes more demanding conditions, including hills, to test its mettle. The engine’s ability to deliver its maximum performance potential has been hamstrung by only having four forward ratios in the auto, too.
On a brighter note, road manners are one of the new model’s strengths with ride, handling and steering all benefitting from Kia Australia’s local chassis tuning program to suit Australian road conditions and driver preferences.
The ride is firm, but remains comfortable and composed in most situations. Competent, responsive and secure roadholding make for a pleasing driving experience and place it as one of the more dynamically-talented cars in its class.
The Rio’s stylish, new body has grown slightly and, together with some rejigging of the interior packaging, it’s now one of the most spacious cars for occupants and cargo in the light car segment.
Connectivity and convenience features have been boosted in the new Rio. All versions feature a 7.0” infotainment touch screen, six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, rear-view camera, rear park sensors, two 12V power outlets and two USB ports (one front, one rear) as standard.
The Si reviewed here also has DAB+ radio and sat nav. The interior layout is simple, functional and easy to interact with.
Safety hasn’t been left to chance with six airbags, hill-start assist, ABS, electronic traction and stability management systems, three child restraint anchor points (two are ISOFIX compatible) and front seatbelt pre-tensioners fitted to all models. The body is constructed from high-strength steel for enhanced safety and rigidity.
Buyers will also like the reassurance of an industry-leading seven year/unlimited kilometre factory warranty.