Posted on January 19, 2018
Date of Release: May 2017
Number of Reviews 1
As the Kia brand continues to grow in impressive leaps and bounds, so too does the build quality, design appeal, and all-round brilliance of its vehicles. The newest generation Kia Rio 1.4 Tec is the perfect example of the South Korean automaker’s dedication to excellence. It is a hatchback that is stylish, bold, and ready to deliver on the road.
The previous generation of the Rio was a genuinely stylish car, sporting contours and curves in all the right places. The 2017 Rio builds on that stunning legacy with a bolder design, more aerodynamic contours, and that soon-to-be iconic tiger grille.
Impressive power and equally impressive efficiency helps the Rio deliver a truly exceptional drive. It handles superbly and, whether it is in the city or on open roads, it manages to produce a driving performance that is smooth, agile and responsive.
The 2017 Kia Rio continues to impress in the safety department, offering impressive levels of protection thanks to a host of features that will keep driver and passengers safe. These include: Advanced High Strength Steel, six airbags, Anti-lock Braking System and much more.
The Kia Rio; not quite SA’s B-segment top seller, but certainly a firm favourite amongst South Africans and motoring journalists alike. These little cars have been offering owners good value since they were launched back in 2011. Now, they’re even better! So good, in fact, you might even consider downsizing from your big fancy SUV, to this; a small car with a ‘big car’ feel.
KIA SA launched the 4th generation Kia Rio during winter last year, and whilst the facelift might strike you as minor at first glance, the single most impressive upgrade is quality.
It’s amazing to see how rapidly Kia has improved their manufacturing abilities. If they continue at this pace, there are one or two German brands out there that should start to worry. Our test car was the top of the range model – the MY17 Kia Rio 1.4 Tec; so as you can imagine, it was packed with features!
Starting from the outside, exterior styling highlights include:
The inside of the new Rio will cause their competitors to sweat even more. Interior styling highlights include:
Again, we can’t stress how good the build is on the interior. A little test we often do is to play quite a bass-heavy track on high volume and listen if any of the interior panels vibrate. Zero vibration!
The new Kia Rio Tec features the same 1.4 litre, naturally aspirated (no turbo) petrol engine found in its predecessor. It powers the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. Some journos questioned the need for the 6th gear, but we love it. The engine lacks a bit of torque in high altitude cities, meaning if you want to get a move on, you need to work the gears in the upper half of the rev range. For us, this created a fun, engaging drive. When you are on the highway, the 6th gear helps keep the rev’s low, saving you fuel. Our only criticism of the Rio’s ride quality is that it felt a bit firm – not massively so, but enough to notice it. For us, if you’re going to have a firm ride, then you need a punchy engine so that you can leverage that stiff chassis through the twists. The 74kW/135Nm 1.4l is perfectly apt for city driving, but it doesn’t quite qualify as sporty, so a softer ride would have been better.
We thoroughly enjoyed driving this great hatchback for a week, but let’s see how it matches up against our hatchback lifestyle judging criteria:
Priced at R275k, the Tec derivative is at the upper end of the segment’s price bracket, but then again, for all the features you get and particularly the build quality, it deserves to be there. We think it’s a car that appeals to a very wide target audience. New drivers can be proud to drive around in a cool looking, good value car. Seasoned drivers who might be considering downsizing from their big SUV’s will still enjoy all the luxury they are used to having.
Looking forward, the Rio is going to have some tough competition to face (the new VW Polo and Ford Fiesta launch this year), but price wise the Rio should still hold its edge. Either way, it’s definitely worth a test drive.
The new Kio Rio range is priced* as follows:
*Prices reflect launch prices and may change without notice.
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