The Kia Rio is a special car for the Korean leading automaker because it is through this hatchback that Kia is able to compete in the highly competitive compact hatchback market. The new Rio is essentially the latest instalment of the fourth generation the car, which rolled off the assembly line in 2017.

So what’s new. Not very deep changes, despite a lot of emphasis has been put making the Rio to look bolder and bigger, without really expanding its actual size. This has been done via a more aggressive front with a thicker grille, labelled the “tiger nose”, giving the small hatch a much more macho look.

The body lines also have tweaks giving it a wider and sharper look, thanks mostly to high technology modern design applied in building this good-looking little stunner. There’s no hiding Kia’s determination to close the sales gap between the Rio and the likes of VW Polo and Hyundai i20, making the latest Rio very hard to turn your back on

The entry-level LS grade stands taller than the previous edition on 15-inch alloys wheels as standard, while the EX, the grade just below the top, runs on 17-inch wheels.

Back to the LS, more better news is that it’s now available with the 1.4-litre  engine capacity unlike only the 1.2-litre having been the only choise in this bottom-rung grade.  The performance numbers clearly show why choice is sweet; 73 kW/135 Nm 1.4-litre with the option of a 6-speed manual or auto, is clearly a more power option than 1.2-litre’s  61 kW/120 Nm  with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Interior
From the LS right across the range, all derivatives now feature an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It is further equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth telephony and streaming. Two more speakers have added to the LS for  a total of six, which means the lowest range also sounds good.

Electronic stability control has been added to the LS level upwards to the TEC derivative. But the smooth ride is guaranteed from the LS upwards through different design and technology employed in building the new Kia Rio.

1.4-litre engine

The LX and EX grades are all  available only with the 1.4-litre engine, and for the EX additionally features include LED daytime running lights, a rear park assistance system with integrated reverse-view camera.

The 1.4 TEC (manual and auto) remains the flagship of the the Rio range. Compared with the EX grade, it features automatic aircon, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, LED rear combination lamps, cruise control, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, alloy pedals and leather upholstery.

The top-of the range TEC derivative is also driven by 1.4-litre engines, but with more safety features. However, all the Rio derivatives are reasonably safe. For example, ABS breaks and ISOfix child seat anchors are standard. Also, all the ranges come  with front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, child locks and impact-sensing door unlocking function.

Prices

1.2 LS Manual                                    R280 995

1.4 LS Manual                                    R291 995

1.4 LS Auto                                          R308 995

1.4 LX Manual                                    R306 995

1.4 LX Auto                                         R323 995

1.4 EX Manual                                    R319 995

1.4 EX Auto                                         R336 995

1.4 TEC Manual                                 R344 995

1.4 TEC Auto                                       R361 995

The 1.4 TEC derivatives may also be ordered with a factory-fitted sunroof (R8 000).

All Kia models come sandard with a 5-year unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assistance. All the derivatives in the range are offered with a 4-year/60 000 km service plan, with the exception of 1.2 LS (2-year/60 000 km service plan).

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