Tuesday 29 March 2011

Road Test: 2012 Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi

Beneath this thick coating lies Kia's new Rio supermini. Although we seen official pictures, the Rio's rigorous testing days are far from over as engineers still alter the chassis and steering.

While the previous model didn't bother the Citroen C3, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, or Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, does the new car have what it takes to unnerve class-leaders? Read on to find out...


Visually, the new Rio is substantially better looking than the outgoing model, with large headlamps, a dynamic stance, bowtie-esque 'tiger' grille, and LED daytime running lights. On the inside, a stylish, well-built cabin used from high-quality materials feature, bringing the Rio up-to-date with the current line-up. However, the dashboard of our car was covered with extensive disguise and fake panels, and despite the official images being released, no interior photos were allowed.

Over the previous model, the new Rio now feels a lot more grown up. With a longer wheelbase, all-round legroom and headroom was superb, allowing tall adults to sit comfortably on a long journey. The luggage capacity has also increased to 288 litres, still some way off the Fiesta's 295 litres.

Wind noise is very well suppressed, but not much can be said about road noise, which intruded into the cabin. Visibility was good, especially with the slender A-pillars, but cast your eyes to the rear, and those thick, chunky C-pillar block your field of vision. Lucky for you then rear parking sensors and a reversing camera will be standard on certain grades.


Our car was powered by a tiny 1.1 CRDi, kicking out a mere 69bhp (70PS/51kW). When fitted with a stop/start system, CO2 emissions fall to 85g/km, making it the cleanest combustion engine on sale in Europe. When the 3-cylinder engines bursts into life, it's far from quiet, although that said, under 3,000rpm, it rumbles soundly along. With 162Nm (119lb-ft) of torque available, it takes the Rio a tiring 16.4 seconds to reach 62mph (100km/h).

The British line-up will include the 1.25 'Kappa', 1.4 litre 'Gamma' petrols, and a 1.4 CRDi, nevertheless, we'd be very surprised not to see the 1.1 CRDi.

Driving dynamics:

A concise moment behind the wheel informs us that the Rio has light steering with virtually zero feedback and a well-controlled body. With understeer nearly eliminated, the car rides firmly on the road, but enough to cope with harsh road scars. Ride quality was acceptable, considering the car was sitting on 15 inchers. That said, the wheel size range starts from 14” steel wheels, rising to 17” alloys. Before going on sale, British models will be tuned to UK roads to ensure a better ride and dynamics.

Final words:

Because our drive was so short, its hard to come to a final judgement. The Rio rode fairly well, will offer value for money, and low running costs. If Kia can overcome the high road noise and price the high-end trim-levels competitively, you should most certainly add this car to your shopping list, based upon looks, running costs, and value.

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