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Rio 1.4 Tec | Kia

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 Torque Rating:  



Hatch Lifestyle

City slicker
Boot/seat versatility
Still looking cool
Robot racer


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.

Tags: Kia 2017 Rio Tec rio


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.

Front and back shot of the new Kio Rio 1.4 Tec

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 remarkably well-built: the car feels ‘together’ thanks to its stiffer chassis, improving both handling and passenger safety
  • The cabin looks and feels high-quality: throughout our test, we did not hear a single squeak or rattle. The new chassis is also slightly larger, translating into improved cabin space

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!

MY17 Kia Rio headlight

Starting from the outside, exterior styling highlights include:

  • The updated front-end includes new LED projector headlights, complete with active cornering lights! Yes, you read that correctly. This tech is generally found on much larger, more expensive cars. They dynamically light up whichever side of the road that you are steering towards, improving visibility throughout the turn.
  • We also love the U-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights. They remind us of the VW Polo GTI lights and are bound to improve your ‘cool factor’.
  • The front grille is also interesting as Kia has replaced your traditional grille intake, which allows fresh air to flow into your car’s cooling system, with a chrome-lined solid black panel – very unique. We like it! Kia is confident that enough air flows in via the bottom front grille.
  • The front fog lights look quite similar to what you will find on the Kia Sportage (read our full review of the all-new Sportage here).
  • The rear tail-lights are also a win – we like the aggressive nature that the triple L-shaped LED lights exude.
  • Electric folding mirrors, aerodynamic wiper blades, a powered sunroof and an integrated boot spoiler.
  • Finally, the Tec derivative features 17-inch mag wheels. They kind of remind us of the Yamaha logo, but striking nonetheless.

Interior pic of the 2017 Kia Rio 1.4 Tec (Manual)

The inside of the new Rio will cause their competitors to sweat even more. Interior styling highlights include:

  • We like the all-black theme, complemented with glossy black panels as well as brushed silver accents. Most of the plastics are hard, but somehow don’t feel cheap.
  • The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment is housed in a fixed tilted panel, mounted between the two main air vents. It’s easy to use and looks great – we like the icon-orientated interface design. It hosts all the features you want, specifically Bluetooth as well as Apple CarPlay/Andriod Auto.
  • Fully automatic climate control.
  • Good-looking speedo cluster, including a comprehensive on-board computer.
  • Comfortable, textured leather seats.
  • A cleverly designed, multi-function steering wheel complete with cruise control.

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!

Automatic climate control comes standard in the Kia Rio Tec

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:

  • City Slicker (5 out of 5): Is parking a breeze? Can you whizz through traffic etc.? If you enjoy dropping a gear to overtake, then this tried and tested 1.4l petrol engine will suit you perfectly. The steering is light, making parking a breeze and you’re further assisted with rear park sensors and a rear-facing camera.

  • Boot/Seat Versatility (4 out of 5)With 325l available in the boot, the Rio outshines most of its primary competitors in this area, particularly the top-selling VW Polo. As you might expect, you can fold down the rear seats in a 60:40 fashion for additional space. We like how the rear bench properly caters for 3 passengers, each with their own seatbelt and headrest. The rear seat also features ISOFIX points, helping parents to securely fasten their child seats.

  • Entertainment (5 out of 5): It was super easy to sync your phone with the Rio. We liked how the Apple CarPlay interface looks and we experienced a first in the Rio: we often use Google Maps to navigate our way around the city instead of the car’s native SatNav. However, in every car we have been in to date, you can only hear the voice prompts if you are listening to Bluetooth media. The Kia Rio is the first car we have tested where we could hear the voice prompts over the radio (radio mode) – nice!

  • Still looking cool (4 out of 5): We like it and we think the new Rio will get some VW fans having a closer look too!

  • Robot Racer* (3 out of 5)Whilst some people still prefer naturally aspirated engines, claiming they are more reliable, we, being based in Johannesburg, do prefer turbo-petrol engines. Off the mark, acceleration is not this car’s strong point but as we said earlier, we still found it to be a fun and engaging drive. Kia claims an average fuel consumption of 6,3l/100km, with ours coming in marginally above that – around the 7l/100km mark.
    *THE TORQUE encourages responsible, law-abiding driving.

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.


  • Build quality! Plus you have a 5-year/unlimited km warranty and 4-year/60 000km service plan included in the price.
  • Interior and exterior styling – this car looks good inside and out!
  • Feature packed!


  • The seatbelt warning bleep is a bit over eager. The only way to prevent it from going off is to put your seatbelt on before you even start the car.
  • 1.4l engine starting to show it’s age

The new Kio Rio range is priced* as follows:

1.2 LS
R219 995
1.4 LX
R234 995
1.4 EX
R249 995
1.4 Tec
R274 995

*Prices reflect launch prices and may change without notice.

Do you own or regularly drive the new Kia Rio? Tell SA what you love about your car by quickly rating it on The Torque. Register today!


THE TORQUE is an independent platform dedicated to car reviews. Instead of judging a car based on one or two people’s opinions, THE TORQUE allows you to see what like-minded, real people, who actually own or regularly drive the cars have to say about them.

In addition, THE TORQUE team shares their own ‘lifestyle orientated’ and easy-to-understand reviews on selected cars. Combining the two, gives one the ability to make a truly informed purchasing decision on what the best car for you is. After all, buying a car is a big decision! Register today and tell SA what you love about your car! 


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