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How much? £13,095
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1396cc 16v 4-cylinder, 106bhp @ 6300rpm, 101lb ft @ 4200rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 11.1sec 0-60mph, 114mph, 51.4mpg, 128g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1248kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4045/1720/1455
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 3 out of 53

Readers' rating

Rated 2.5 out of 52.5

Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review

By Ben Barry

First Drives

17 October 2011 09:00

This is Kia’s new Rio, a B-segment rival for the Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 207. It costs from £10,595 to £14,895 and comes with a choice of four engines: 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrols, and 1.1-litre three-cylinder or 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesels. The three-cylinder diesel produces just 85g/km C02 and delivers 88mpg – better than any current internal combustion engine, including those with hybrid trickery. For now, all Rios are five-door hatches, but a three-door will come on stream in early 2012.

The Rio is an important car for Kia – the brand has ambitious plans for growth in Europe, and it sees much of it coming via the fast-growing B-segment.

So, how does this trick three-pot drive in the new Kia Rio?

Ah, sadly we don’t really know, having been restricted to a very limited test drive of a development hack earlier in 2011. The only model available at the launch was the 1.4-litre petrol. It costs from £13,095, produces 106bhp and 101lb ft, and is good for 51.4mpg and 128g/km – a near exact match for the Corsa, and more powerful and more frugal than the Polo. Road tax is free for a year, and £95 annually thereafter.

Is it any good?

There’s much to recommend the Rio. Ex-Audi man (and Kia design director since 2006) Peter Schreyer designed the Rio, and it looks great – clean and crisp and engagingly, distinctively modern. You’ve also got an industry-leading seven-year warranty, and the interior is decently spacious too: at one point we packed a family of four inside, plus a pushchair and luggage in the boot, and we didn’t feel like sardines squashed in a can – the wheelbase is 70mm longer than the car it replaces, and 81mm longer than the Fiesta, for instance. The interior is cleanly and stylishly laid out, and while the plastics can’t match, say, a Fiesta for quality, they’re not at all bad.

Having said that, a comfier seat and the option of lowering the driving position further than is currently possible wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It’s a similar price to rivals, though, isn’t it?

Yes, perhaps you could expect more of a discount versus the competition, but Kia has targeted high levels of specification instead: even the entry-level ‘1’ trim level gets daytime running lights, Bluetooth, front electric windows and an MP3-compatible radio and CD player.

How does the Rio drive?

It’s fine, but certainly not class leading. The ride can feel a little under-damped and unnecessarily firm, and the 1.4-litre petrol – while fine for zipping around town – is short of puff when you call for acceleration at motorway speeds; journalists bemoan the march of turbos, but this is one instance where some forced-induction puff would add some much-needed zest. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Rio is its electronically assisted power steering – it’s inconsistently and strangely weighted and doesn’t really deliver any sense of connection with the driver.

On the plus side, the Rio is still quite agile and noise levels are well suppressed at speed.


After sampling the excellent Picanto earlier this year, we had high expectations for the Rio – the Picanto is incredibly cohesive and simply delivers everything you need in that class. The Rio is more of a mixed bag: its style, equipment, warranty, frugality, emissions and spaciousness are all spot on, but the price isn’t as enticing as you might expect – a basic 1.4-litre Fiesta is over £1000 cheaper – and the driving dynamics are outclassed by the competition.

This isn’t a bad car, but, for us, it’s Kia’s more familiar B-segment rivals that still win out.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Kia Rio


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Average rating: Rated 2.5 out of 52.5 (29 votes)

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Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review


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fodenjf says

RE: Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review

 Having had a test drive in the 1.4 Petrol top spec. '3' model, I was very disappointed with this review. Whilst the handling and performance is not quite up there with the class leading Ford Fiesta, it beats it on just about every other count. It is roomy (for this sector), very quiet and comfortable and loaded with goodies such as electric front seats, reversing sensors, 6-speed manual gearbox, folding electric door mirrors and just about every safety feature known to mankind. You definitely get value for money and the build quality is top notch. You also get a 7 year warranty instead of the usual 3-year one.

The report contains several errors. It mentions a 1.5L turbo diesel. Sorry it's a 1.4L one.Okay it isn't the cheap metal box of earlier Kia models, but the quality level is so much higher. As for the cheapest Fiesta being a thousand quid cheaper, it is very BASIC compared to even the bottom spec. Rio. I know which is the best 'value for money, and it's NOT the Fiesta. If you want a car that can accelerate round bends faster, then the Fiesta is the best of the bunch in this sector, For the other 95 percent of motorists who prefer comfort and reliability, I suggest they take a test drive in this excellent new small car.

23 October 2011 12:32



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bertandnairobi says

RE: Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review

It wasn´t my intention to suggest the Rio is God´s gift to motoring; rather that its plain decency should put the wind up Renault, PSA and Fiat. Why should one buy one of their offerings if this thing costs the same and seems to be more professionally screwed-together? The only clever thing about this car is that it isn´t trying too hard to be something it´s not. I like that aspect. Maybe Kia would love to have sprayed a bit of "premium" glitter on it, but they didn´t and this honesty is refreshing. I´ve commented before on Renault and PSA´s superficiality and this car, the Rio, shows you don´t have to put fake metal surfaces all over the place to make a decent vehicle.

By the way, I really appreciate all the extra photos of brollies in boots and the back seat accomodation. This gives a good sense of the car´s scale and proportions. .

19 October 2011 13:21


Sam the Eagle

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Sam the Eagle says

RE: Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review


a bit unfair that last comment - you make it sound like this car is a work of genius... Which knowing you is probably what you think, but I'd argue that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a Clio or a 207, although they may not be everyone's cup of tea style-wise. And what we've seen of the Clio mkIII (or is it IV?) or Peugeot 208 so far is promising, so French makers haven't quite given up on the small car market just yet. But like Vauxhall/Opel and Ford, they are suffering from the fact that a lot of people have turned their back on honest small cars so they feel they have to chase the premium market instead. Big mistake in my opinion as I think there are still enough people out there whose main priority is value for money (as proved by the Koreans recent success, even if it was mostly subsidised by scrappage schemes), but it's not quite game over yet.


19 October 2011 13:00



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bertandnairobi says

RE: Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review

Mediocrities in the small car market (that´s you Peugeot and Fiat and possibly Renault) will be suffering from a loss of appetite having seen this car. It´s precisely the kind of dead-serious, competent and unfussy vehicle that these people once offered and now don´t. The European mass makers will be feeling the heat now this and others like it are on sale. Ford and GM have a good chance of competing but PSA is going to hate this car. Trinkety DStractions and more ugly Pugs will not save them. 

19 October 2011 11:44



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robinstp says

RE: Kia Rio 1.4 (2011) CAR review

@oldtimer 45 (thats NOT old)  - they also have a/c across the range.

19 October 2011 08:01

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