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I looked up the word Rio on Google. You know what popped up? An animated kid’s movie series and a sexy city. I’m showing my age - I had no idea about the movie series. It also happens to be the name of KIA’s compact city hatch, and sedan, technically revered to as a “supermini.” This Rio I’m more au fait with. 


Either way, the name is youthful, playful and full of joy. Let’s find out if the KIA Rio embodies the same traits! 


Over the December holiday period, I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks with the top of the range 1.4 Tec model. For R275 000, you get a lot of car for your buck. 


The new Rio is like its predecessor, only now more chiselled. Although the new model is better looking than the car it replaces, it’s less dramatic. Perhaps its daring looks were the reason it is KIA’s best-selling car in their global range. Let’s hope the new Rio carries on that tradition. 


As I mentioned before, the test Rio was the range-topping Tec model. Being the flagship, it features a host of standard tech: leather (faux but fab) seats, a snazzy touchscreen infotainment system that runs the Rio’s music, navigation system and Bluetooth connection. Hands-free telephony is par for the course as is USB connectivity and charging sockets. Additionally, there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This feature allows the cars infotainment screen to mimic the screen of your smartphone. It’s standard operating tech for Millennials and iGen folk. A good thing - as the Rio is primarily targeted at those between 18 and 35 years of age. Other features include climate control system, sexy rims, a reverse camera which replaces Park Distance Control and heated front seats. These are but a few of the car’s generous list of features. 

On the road, this lightweight four-seater driven by an efficient 4-cylinder 1.4-L (74kW/135Nm) motor. Traditional in the sense that it doesn’t feature a turbocharger, but there is enough punch to get you going (0-100km/h in 11.5 seconds). The Rio features firm suspension and light steering. Dynamically, it’s an easy drive albeit not as fun as some of its rivals. Refined and well put together but not perfect - there is some road noise for its low-profile tyres, and our poor road quality tested the Rio’s suspension - causing it to hop and skip. 


Boot space is good too - 325-litre boot capacity. 


Overall the Rio is easy to live with - reliable, efficient, spacious and comfortable. Like a loyal friend, the Rio is all the city car you need. But some might want more, and the competition is stiff. So, I’d strongly consider it without forgetting its competitors. 


Plus + 

Handsome styling 

Very well equipped 


Minus - 

Not much - on the move, the sunroof causes wind buffeting sound which goes away once you open one of the windows. 

The 1.25-L is underpowered, so your best bet is the 1.4. 

Automatic models are only 4-speed. 


The Competition 

Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa, VW Polo (Brand new), Hyundai i20, Renault Clio and the new Nisan Micra. 



Hatch 1.2 LS R219 995

Hatch 1.4 LX R234 995

Hatch 1.4 LX Auto R247 995

Hatch 1.4 EX R249 995

Hatch 1.4 EX Auto R262 995

Hatch 1.4 Tec R274 995

Hatch 1.4 Tec Auto R287 995


Service and warranty 

The RIO Hatch comes with a 4-year/60 000 km service plan.


My choice

Hatch 1.4 EX R249 995



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