Kia's stylish supermini, the Rio, now benefits from a package of design, trim and specification upgrades which make it even more the car of choice for buyers looking for style, quality and value in a compact package. The changes were revealed at the Paris Motor Show in the autumn of 2014.
Redesigned front and rear bumpers have given the Rio a sharper, sportier appearance; changes to the upholstery of most models and to the centre fascia trim have raised perceived quality to new heights; while new items like touchscreen satellite navigation, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, a DAB digital radio, tyre pressure monitoring and a luggage net and undertray - depending on model - add to the well-being and convenience of owners.
A striking new Urban Blue colour option, replacing Electric Blue, is available on second- and third-tier models, and there are distinctive new 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels for all but the two entry-level grades. The 16-inch wheels on grade 2 wear 195/55 R 16 tyres, while the 17-inch rims on level 3 and 4 models are shod with 205/45 R 17 rubber.
The new Rio is offered in a total of 19 versions based on three- and five-door body styles, five trim grades (1, 1 Air, 2, 3 and 4) and four engines. Most manual versions have Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG), Kia's fuel-saving, emissions-reducing engine stop/start system, which contributes towards the 1.1-litre diesel model achieving an official fuel economy figure of up to 88.3mpg - better than any non-electric car on sale in the UK, including hybrids and eco specials, at the time of its introduction in the car. For the convenience of buyers who spend a lot of time driving in cities or who have disabilities, automatic transmission is offered with the 1.4-litre petrol engine.
The new features in detail
The Kia Rio's acclaimed styling has been given a sportier edge for 2015 with revisions to both the front and rear. The lower front air intake has been redesigned, as have the front fog light housings, which feature twin chromed horizontal bars. The rear bumper has also been modernised and incorporates a new number plate strip and restyled reflectors.
The exterior revisions are accompanied by subtle but stylish enhancements to the high-quality interior of the cabin. All versions have smart new high-gloss black embellishments on the centre fascia, replacing the metallic effect formerly found on grades 2 and above, and a chrome handbrake button to add a final, premium flourish. Grades 1 and 1 Air have new black cloth upholstery, while grades 2 and 3 have new premium black cloth upholstery. Grade 4, which was introduced to the Rio range at the start of 2014, continues with black leather upholstery with faux leather sections.
The new items of equipment added to the Rio range are headlined by the 7-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system which has been added as standard to grades 3 and 4. It includes European mapping and a Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC), and also features an integrated reversing camera. As a result, these models are no longer fitted with a CD player with MP3 disc compatibility, reflecting the preference of an increasing number of owners for playing music through digital portable devices.
A DAB digital radio is now standard on all versions of the Rio, delivering excellent sound through a wide selection of channels. For convenience, the name of the chosen radio station is indicated on the radio display.
Grades 1 and 1 Air now have electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, while in grades 2, 3 and 4 these also fold electrically and have LED indicators. Grades 3 and 4 also now have a luggage net and undertray, providing more secure storage for small items.
Tyre pressure monitoring becomes standard across the entire range to alert drivers to any potentially serious drop in pressure, and a temporary spare wheel and tyre replaces the previous tyre repair kit in all models except the entry-level 1.1-litre CRDi diesel, which has a unique 15-inch wheel-and-tyre combination to help it achieve its exceptional fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 88.3mpg and 86g/km. It is also fitted with the full gamut of Kia's EcoDynamics fuel-saving technologies, including ISG, low-rolling-resistance tyres, a drag-reducing front grille, a gearshift indicator and a rear spoiler.
Driving down fuel economy and emissions
The Rio continues with an unchanged line-up of four engines. Besides the 1.1-litre CRDi engine, which delivers 74bhp and 170Nm of torque from a mere 1,500rpm, the Rio is available with 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines and a 1.4-litre CRDi diesel. While the 1.1-litre three-cylinder CRDi will capture the headlines with fuel economy of more than 74mpg and CO2 figures below 100g/km for every model to which it is fitted, all four engines in the Rio are frugal, lively and kind to the environment. EcoDynamics technologies are standard on all Rio diesels and the 1.4-litre petrol models with manual transmission.
The 1.4-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is from the same U2 family as the 1.1. It develops 89bhp and 220Nm of torque. Economy and emissions figures are 70.6mpg and just 105 g/km of CO2.
The entry-level petrol engine in the Rio is the 1.25-litre Kappa unit, which develops 84bhp and 121Nm of torque. The 1.4-litre alternative is from the Gamma family and develops 107bhp and 137Nm of torque. It offers buyers the convenience of an automatic gearbox as an option to the standard manual. All petrol manual versions of the new Rio comfortably exceed 50mpg, with CO2 emissions below 130g/km.
Style outside; quality inside
The new Rio - styled under the watchful eye of Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, now the President of Design for the whole Hyundai Motor Group - is a modern, European-influenced supermini that sells as much on its revolutionary good looks and class-leading quality as on Kia's fabled reputation for value for money.
With its long, wide, low stance, stretched wheelbase and pronounced coupé-like roofline, it exhibits dynamic and sporty looks while offering occupants more room than the majority of superminis. Careful materials management has ensured this is not at the expense of weight, despite the high specification across the range.
The exterior design, a blend of dynamism and sophistication, is a complete departure from the more functional approach taken with many small cars. At the front there is a slimline interpretation of the Kia family ‘tiger nose' grille that integrates neatly with the headlamp units. The Kia logo sits above the grille.
The side profile emphasises the ratio of metal to glass through a forward-leaning wedge and coupé-like roofline. A distinctive feature line adds tension to the flanks and leads towards a rear end which suggests strength and stability through high shoulders and a sharp rear screen angle.
The interior is clean and sophisticated, the choice of materials and the fit and finish giving the new Rio the look and feel of a refined, premium product. Signature Kia features like the three-cylinder instrument cluster and wide, horizontal dashboard blend with newer ideas such as the toggle switches on the centre stack to control some secondary functions. They are neatly integrated into the car's heating and ventilation unit.
The long wheelbase and wide cabin ensure excellent legroom and shoulder space, and despite the low roofline there is generous headroom. The wide luggage area has an overall capacity of 288 litres and is supplemented by useful, bespoke storage areas throughout the cabin. The 60:40 split rear seats fold down when additional cargo space is needed.
Democracy in safety
Kia does not equate safety to the price of the car. All Rio models enjoy exactly the same standard safety specification.
The package includes the potentially life-saving feature of electronic stability control (ESC), which stabilises the car when road conditions or driving style might cause it to go out of control by braking one or more wheels, reducing engine torque, or both. It is linked to anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist so that maximum stopping power is always guaranteed in a crisis, even if the driver does not apply full force to the brake pedal. The Rio also includes Hill-start Assist Control to prevent the car momentarily rolling backwards when pulling away up steep gradients
Should an accident be unavoidable, the new Rio has a stiff body shell featuring front and rear crumple zones that absorb and dissipate crash energy to minimise the risk of injury to occupants.
There are twin front, side and curtain airbags, plus seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters for the front occupants to hold the wearer firmly in place while restricting the pressure of the belt on the chest. There is side impact protection, plus ISOFIX top tethers and anchors, allowing a child seat to be carried in the front passenger's seat (rearward-facing) or any of the rear seats. A passenger's seat airbag cut-off switch is fitted in case a child seat is being used there.
The Rio also has Emergency Stop Signalling, warning following drivers of danger by flashing the high-mounted brake light when the car stops sharply. The doors lock themselves upon pulling away for security, but unlock automatically should an accident occur.
Five trim grades with a high standard specification
Every Rio has a comprehensive specification. In addition to the new features added in the 2015 facelift, standard features include daytime running lights, speed-variable front wipers, headlamp levelling, front electric windows, a height-adjustable driver's seat, two-way steering column adjustment on the petrol model (tilt only on the diesel), a tachometer and trip computer, split folding rear seats, a boot light, a 12-volt power socket, USB and AUX ports and body-coloured bumpers, door handles and door mirrors. Bluetooth is also standard on the entry-level petrol model, and on all versions with other trim grades.
The 1 Air grade is for buyers who want the comfort of air conditioning with the exceptional value for money of the entry-level model.
Level 2 features include 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a cooled glovebox and electrically adjustable heated and folding door mirrors with side repeaters. The extensive level 3 specification adds 17-inch alloys with low-profile tyres, ultraviolet-reducing solar privacy glass (five-door only), LED daytime running and rear combination lamps, automatic air conditioning with auto de-fog, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, automatic projection-type headlights, heated front seats and six speakers instead of four. Grade 4 models supplement all this with a smart key with engine stop/start button, an electric sliding and tilting sunroof, a heated steering wheel and leather upholstery.
Every new Rio, as with all Kias, is covered by the best warranty in the business, extending to seven years or 100,000 miles on parts and labour, excluding wear and tear items, subject to certain conditions.