New Kia Rio revealed: latest on Kia’s upcoming Fiesta rival

Published: 29 September 2016

► 2016 Paris Motor Show star from Kia
► Longer, lower and wider than before
► Fancy new interior, on sale in 2017

Kia has unveiled a new version of its Rio supermini at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The new model, which will be aiming to kick even harder at the Ford Fiesta’s heels, is set to go on sale in the UK around about March 2017.

The new Rio is longer (15mm), wider (5mm) and lower (5mm) than the model it replaces. Will it set your hair on fire with excitement? Unlikely. But it might just get your gran to her hair appointment in a certain amount of style.

Daylight come and me want to go home?

Oh, come on – it is actually quite a smart-looking little car now, even if Kia does appear to be ditching the three-door model in favour of the more practical five-door bodystyle. There are lots straight, sharp lines, a revised ‘Tiger-nose’ grille design and thinner, ‘more sculpted’ headlights.

2017 Kia Rio

There wheelbase grows 10mm, which is good news for passengers, while the more upright rear should also enhance practicality. It has a distinctive LED lighting signature front and rear as well. Not bad.

Why isn’t there a three-door version this time around?

Artur Martins, Kia’s vice president for marketing, attributes the lack of a three-door Rio to ‘falling customer demand for one.’ Can’t really argue with that. We’re sure that Kia’s played around with the concept, though. Even Kia chief designer Gregory Guillaume says: ‘the design lends itself well to a three-door model.’

2017 Kia Rio

Ah, well. What’s it like on the inside?

Looks pretty sweet to us – though the images presumably illustrate a high-spec model. A new central touchscreen, mounted high in the dash in what’s described as a ‘floating’ position, replaces many of the previous car’s buttons, while the air-con controls beneath this look particularly slick. That new media system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so it should accommodate most buyers’ connectivity needs. 

2017 Kia Rio

Kia’s Connected Services system will be available on models fitted with sat-nav, too. This grants access to a wide range of data, including live traffic updates, weather information, point of interest searches and more. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s something that’s slowly being rolled out across a wider, and more affordable, range of cars. 

The new Rio’s dashboard is also angled more towards the driver, as Kia attempts to engage more than just your wallet when you try one on for size at the dealership.

2017 Kia Rio

The interior upholstery will be offered in black or grey, depending on the trim level, with artificial leather on higher-spec versions. Feeling frisky? Then option the Red Pack, which features black faux leather with red trimmings, for the genuine carnival aesthetic. Or something. Other interior elements are finished in gloss black or pseudo-metallic. Hashtag modern.

And what about safety?

As you’d expect, a new car wouldn’t be newsworthy if it didn’t have some sort of new safety feature. Consequently, the Rio features optional autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection – a claimed first for the supermini class.

It’s bundled into an optional pack that includes a lane departure warning system, but buyers will also be able to opt for a park assist function.

So, it’ll be bringing home a gold medal?

Tricky to say at this stage, as Kia hasn’t confirmed the pricing or exact specification details. We do know that the line-up will feature a host of familiar petrol and diesels, though – 1.25- and 1.4-litre petrols, and two 1.4-litre diesels.

2017 Kia Rio

The bigger news is the arrival of the 1.0-litre T-GDi engine found in the larger Ceed and Proceed, available in a choice of 97bhp and 118bhp outputs. It remains to be seen if a hot GT model will join the line-up with a hotter version of this powertrain, though.

As for trim levels, expect the same 1, 2 and 3 numeric labels as the rest of the Kia range, plus a top-dog spec with an individual name. Probably this will be called GT Line. Don’t be surprised to see a fully-loaded First Edition to launch the new car, too.

How much will it cost? 

While the new Rio goes into production at the end of 2016, it probably won’t go on sale in the UK until the first quarter of 2017. So, Kia is unsurprisingly reluctant to commit to any pricing just yet. It will likely be slightly more expensive than the old model but it will feature more kit, sweetening the deal. 

Kia's bestselling car: the Rio

This supermini is in fact Kia's bestselling model; more than 473,000 were built in 2015. So the company’s thrown everything at this replacement model.

Kia Rio: the first design renderings

Previously, renderings had provided our first look at the fourth-generation Rio ahead of its debut at the 2016 Paris motor show.

Read our full guide to the Paris motor show

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

Comments