Sunday, 01 August 2021

New Kia's spec makes the grades

I HAVE been driving the byways around Henley once again this week at the UK launch of the fourth-generation all-new Kia Rio.

Aside from renewing my acquaintance with a few potholes — which told me I was once again in South Oxfordshire — I enjoyed testing this new car on roads skirting the incomparable Thames.

My first impression of the new 2017 Rio — I hope to bring you a fuller report when I review the car at a later date — was that it was truly “fit for purpose”, as they say, as a product of the 21st century. What I liked about it was its increased interior space, its insistence on remaining solely a five-door model (this always gets my vote as I do not get on well with three-door models), and its “advanced connectivity features” that appear in the Rio for the first time.

This little car is Kia’s global superstar, with sales close to 475,000 a year (accounting for almost one-sixth of the South Korean company’s sales). Other Kia models overshadow it in the UK, but on the world stage the Rio reigns supreme in the Kia canon.

And I see no reason why this new generation of the car should not succeed further in its quest for that old chestnut, world domination.

Here’s what you will get in the UK — the all-new Rio comes in 10 versions in three trim grades with a top of the range limited-run First Edition model priced at £17,445.

The standard specification is generous. Even grade one, starting at £11,995, is fitted as standard with air conditioning, front electric windows with an automatic function on the driver’s side, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.8-inch display screen, Bluetooth, automatic light control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. There are body-coloured bumpers, door mirror casings and door handles, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 60/40 split rear seats. A four-speaker audio system is standard, while safety provisions include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).

Grade two, priced from £13,745, supplements this with 15-inch alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shift, electric windows all round, electric folding mirrors with LED indicator lights, a digital DAB radio, a five-inch colour display screen, a six-speaker audio system, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, a 3.5-inch premium supervision cluster, rear as well as front USB charging ports, cruise control with a speed limiter and autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning systems.

There is chrome trim around the black radiator grille, premium black cloth upholstery and a centre storage box.

Additional features on grade three, which starts at £16,295, include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning with a defogging system, black faux leather upholstery, a seven-inch display screen, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing front wipers, privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, satellite navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and Bluetooth with voice recognition.

Finally, the First Edition adds 17-inch alloys, a smart key entry system and engine start/stop button, stainless steel pedals, black and red faux leather upholstery and LED rear lights.

Depending on the model, the new Rio is available in a choice of seven exterior colours. Sienna Brown is the standard choice, with Clear White as a no-cost option and Satin Silver, Graphite, Midnight Black, Smokey Blue and Blaze Red as premium options.

I found this first drive in this latest generation Rio a veritable treat for such a small car. It is plucky and willing and there should be a spec to suit all.

l Fourth generation of Kia’s global best-seller

l More size and space; more style and equipment

l 1.0 T-GDi turbo engines now head more efficient powertrain line-up

l Fuel economy of up to 80.7mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 92g/km

l New suspension and steering

l Advanced connectivity features appear in Rio for the first time

l Stiffer body shell and electronic driver aids add to safety

l Priced from £11,995 on the road