I drove a Rio and I had ball in it was something I didn’t think I would say after being so unimpressed with the naturally aspirated 1.4L 4 cylinder in the Rio Sport I had driven previously.
But still I had hopes the 1L turbo 3 cylinder in the Rio GT-Line could turn what was something boring to drive into something that can add a little bit of fun in your life.
Turns out after a week I was right it’s amazing how a different engine and transmission combo can make such a difference.
The Rio is not a bad looking car although I think a black roof option would make it look a lot better specially with the yellow paint this car had, I especially like the quad driving lights at the front.
Stepping inside and I think Kia have done a great job with how well the cabin is set out.
The cloth and leather seats are plenty comfortable and supportive, the flat bottomed GT-Line steering wheel is the perfect thickness for me and comfortable to hold.
The instrument cluster is easy to read in any light and includes a digital speedo that some others don’t amongst the myriad of info available via the LCD screen nestled between the gauges.
The carbon like finishes to the dash and door skins give the Rio a touch of finesse which is welcomed in this class.
There’s plenty of head and leg room for the front and ample storage spots, including tray at the front of the console with a USB and 12 volt connection, there is also a smaller shelf above which is the perfect size for your phone, the console also has 2 cup holders that sit in front of a small console bin.
Space in the rear is also good thanks to the high roof line although it may get a bit squishy for 3 people, there also 12 Volt outlet and large door storage bins.
Boot space is good at 325L which is better than some in the next class up and that does expand to 980L with the back seats folded down.
Technology wise the Rio comes with a 7″ colour LCD touch screen with MP3 compatible audio player and AM/FM tuner. It has full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability amd while I didn’t test the CarPlay I did test Android Auto and found the system works perfectly. The only downside is no factory sat nav although I normally use Google maps so it was not an issue for me.
I found the sound from the 6 speaker audio system was great, Bluetooth® connectivity and the steering wheel mounted audio controls worked great.
While a 3 cylinder turbo engine with 88kW and 172Nm doesn’t sound like much on paper, it better’s the naturally aspirated 1.4L engine that standard in the rest of the range by 14kW and 39Nm’s and offers a vast improvement in drivability.
The 3cyl turbo is a cracker of a little engine with max torque available from between 1500 and 4000 rpm the Rio is spritely off the mark specially after the turbo builds up some rev’s, let’s just say the Rio surprised quite a few people in spot light grand prix this week without going past half throttle.
Given how spritely it can be off the mark it’s no surprise that it will easily keep up with traffic and has no issues reaching highway speeds.
Fuel Economy was extremely good I ended up with figures of 8.4L/100 km for the week a lot of that was in typical Sydney peak hour traffic, on the freeway I saw it get done to 6L/100 km.
The 7 speed DCT is well matched to the engine and helps with the overall performance, there are the usually jerkiness at low speed and part that you associate with DCT’s but once you learn it’s nuances it is very easy to drive around.
The bonus is once you do exercise your right foot the shifts are snappy and spot on, while you can slip the shifter into sport and takes things into your own hands I think the overall driving pleasure would be enhanced with the addition of some paddle shifters but that’s a personal thing.
On the road the GT-Line has benefited from Kia’s local suspension tuning program, it does ride a touch on the firm side but I don’t mind that and it still rides nicely over the bumps and imperfections you get on Sydney’s roads.
The up side to that is that there no lean during cornering and feels sure footed when you explore it’s handling. Part of it can be attributed to the ContiSportContact 2 tyres which offer superb grip and are a great accompliment to the suspension tune even though they let a bit of road noise in.
The steering is well weighted and direct specially on turn in which only makes it more fun to drive.
When it comes to safety the Rio has been awarded a 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating thanks to the use of Advanced High Strength Steel, and full waft of safety features including.
Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) with Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), 6 SRS airbags, Driver Attention Alert,
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with TCS, VSM (Vehicle Management System), HAC (Hill-start Assist Control).
It get full point from me for the front and rear parking sensors and gets bonus points for the rear view camera.
After a week in the Rio GT-Line it was hard not to come away impressed with it, it is well equipped, has plenty of safety features, a good amount of interior space all wrapped up in an attractive package.
The 1L 3 cylinder turbo engine matched excellently to a 7 speed DCT, is cracker that loves to rev and can return great economy when needed, combine that with a great ride and handling the Gt-Line offers you a fun drive as well.
Yes it is not a not a hot hatch nor do Kia claim it to be but with great handling combined with an excellent drive train it can certainly be considered a hatch of the warm variety.
If your looking for a small hatch that delivers on fun then you really should be taking a trip down to your local dealership and taking a Rio GT-Line for spin.
For more info on the Rio GT-Line and the rest of Kia’s range of cars surf on over to their website http://www.kia.com.au
Model: MY19 Rio GT-Line
Warranty: 7 year unlimited kilometre with 7 years capped price servicing.
Price: From $23,090.00
Engine: 1L In-line 3 cyl. DOHC T-GDI 88 kW – 172 Nm
Transmission: 7 Speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission)
Great ride and handling
Brilliant drive train
Long list of Safety features
No factory sat nav
No climate control aircon
Lacks blind side alert
GT-Line body kit, LED DRLs, LED position lights, LED tail-lights and LED fog lights, 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, six-speaker audio system, rear-view camera, two ISOFIX points, AEB, lane-keep assist, and idle stop/start.