- Cheap to run
- Class-leading 7-year warranty
- Unrefined ride
- Some engines are underpowered
- Gearboxes are notchy
Stylish practical supermini
The Kia Rio has changed a lot since its first introduction into the UK market back in 2000. Back then, it was a much bigger, station wagon/hatchback crossover, whereas today it’s a compact supermini. Kia’s brand image has also changed over the years, so whilst Kias were once mocked, they’re now respected. The latest Rio, introduced in 2011, is stylish, practical, and features a seven year warranty. It’s now a genuine contender to the best-selling Ford Fiesta, and the classy Volkswagen Polo.
Solidly built and well equipped
The interior of the Rio is one that favours functionality over fun. It’s not the most inspiring design in the class, but it’s all solidly put together, and features some high end materials. You’ll also get tons of standard equipment which is a bonus.
The dashboard of the Rio is one that goes for the Volkswagen vibe, rather than the futuristic approach of the Renault Clio. That means that the dashboard of the Rio is utilitarian and solid, but it’s not going to win any design awards. Nevertheless, controls and switches feel good quality and well damped. Soft-touch plastics are used throughout as well, which give the Rio a prestige feel.
Storage space in the Rio is pretty average for the supermini class. With a 288 litre boot capacity, it is bigger than the Ford Fiesta (276 litres), and the Vauxhall Corsa (285 litres), but much smaller than the Honda Jazz (399 litres). The boot also features a high load lip, which makes getting heavy items a pain to get in and out. There’s plenty of space in the cabin however, so passengers will be comfortable.
Equipment levels in the Rio are generous, particularly if you jump up from the entry-level 1 trim. The 2 trim offers the best value for money, as it is only slightly more expensive than the standard trim, and it adds electric windows, cruise control, climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a leather steering wheel.
Overall, the inside of the Rio is a pretty impressive package. There’s excellent build quality, a well-designed functional dashboard, a good sized boot, and generous equipment levels. The Rio really does represent excellent value for money.
Safe, sensible, but with vague steering
The Kia Rio is a car that’s designed to be easy to drive. The Rio certainly is this, as there’s plenty of grip through the corners, and very little in the way of body roll thanks to its stiff suspension setup. Unfortunately however, the steering is vague, and offers very little in the way of feedback, so it’s not particularly engaging, and some way off the fun Ford Fiesta. Nevertheless, it feels safe and solid, which will be attractive to a lot of buyers.
Suspension and Chassis
Comfort levels are unfortunately let down by the Rio’s stiff chassis and suspension. It makes the car more confident through the corners, but it compromises on ride refinement. Potholes and loose road surfaces aren’t dealt with in the best of ways, with the worst jolting through into the cabin. The Rio is however a reasonably good motorway cruiser, as wind and road noise are well contained. Unfortunately, engine noise at speed, especially on lower powered models, lets the Rio down.
Gearbox options in the Rio come in three guises. Entry level models come with a 5-speed manual, that’s a little bit notchy, and lacks the flexibility for motorway driving. Further up the range is a 6-speed manual, that solves the latter problem, but not the former. There’s also a 4-speed automatic option available with the 1.4 litre petrol engine, but it’s not as refined as the DSG automatic that you’d find in a Polo.
Economical, green engine range, that’s a little lacking in power
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Rio, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. There’s a variety of power outputs throughout the range, but there’s no hot-hatch version. There is however a super-economical diesel that’s bound to please a lot of drivers.
If it’s power that you want from your Rio, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the engines on offer in the Rio range. The fastest in the lineup is the petrol-powered 1.4 litre ISG, which produces 107bhp, and will accelerate you from 0-62mph in 11 seconds flat. It’s nowhere near as fast as a Fiesta ST, but it’s got enough punch to offer great flexibility both in and out of town, and it’s also a lot cheaper.
Eco-friendly buyers will be delighted with the 1.1 litre diesel-powered CRDi engine. If you go for a Rio with this engine fitted, you’ll be getting a car that produces just 86g/km of CO2 emissions. That’s amongst the lowest in the supermini class, so you can have the peace of mind that you’re helping to save the planet. It also makes this model road tax exempt, so it’s a great option for money savers. With up to an incredible 85.6mpg on offer as well, you can save tons of money each month at the fuel pumps.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your Rio, you’re going to get a relatively clean, efficient engine. The super efficient diesel can feel a little underpowered at times, but it’s perhaps a price worth paying for it’s supreme economy.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, good standard safety kit
Like nearly every car in its class, the Kia Rio easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 92% in adult safety, 84% in child safety, and 46% in pedestrian safety, the Rio is amongst the safest cars in the supermini class. You’ll also get six airbags, stability control, and ABS throughout the range, so you can always feel safe and sound in a Rio.
Excellent value for money, if you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Kia Rio is one of the best value superminis out there. Not only is it cheaper to buy than most of its rivals, it’s also extremely good value to run day-to-day. CO2 emissions are low throughout the range, so road tax is either free, or at least cheap, whilst fuel efficiency is impressively high, with no Rio falling below 56.5mpg. The low-powered diesel engine offers the best value for money for those on a serious budget.
Insurance costs in the Rio depend upon which model you choose to go for. Insurance costs throughout the range undercut rivals however, so you’re always going to get great value for money. The cheapest Rio to insure in the range is the 1.1 CRDi 1 Air, which incredibly is in the lowest group 1, whilst the most expensive is the top of the range 1.4 4 ISG, which is in group 9.
Depreciation is a large factor with the Rio, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Kia Rio really is a great value supermini package. It’s incredibly well built, practical, safe, and excellent value for money. If you’re on the lookout for a supermini, you should definitely take a close look at the Kia Rio.
Buying a used Kia Rio online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Kia Rio for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Rio. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Kia Rio online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Kia? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Kia Rio, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Rio, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Kia to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.