The Kia Rio was launched in South Africa in early 2017 and immediately turned heads wherever it went. Motorists around the country fell in love with the Rio as it seemed ideal for urban life. What’s more, they sell about 500 Kia Rio’s every month and the sporty hatchback has regularly been at the top of the list for SA’s top 10 passenger cars.
Considering the competitive nature of this segment, that is an impressive achievement in itself. Going up against the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, Kia has risen to the challenge with the Rio 1.4 Tec in a strikingly shade of blue and 17” wheels. In the second-hand market, how does it compare?
Performance Without A Turbo
Under the hood sits a naturally aspirated engine pushing power to the front wheels through a smooth six-speed manual gearbox. With the current trend of car manufacturers using turbocharged technology, it is a little odd that Kia did not add one here. The non-turbo 1.4-litre engine still produces a respectable 74kW and 135Nm of torque.
Driving the Kia Rio around town is as comfortable as the rest with enough power to dart from robot to robot without the hassles of a heavy clutch. It does the daily office, school and shopping run with ease and comfort while there is no indication of performance lag due to the fact that there is no turbocharger.
It’s a given that modern turbocharged cars outperform those without and while the Kia Rio 1.4 Tec performs extremely well in an urban environment, it’s a little different driving on the open road. A turbo would’ve come in handy going uphill when fully loaded but changing to a lower gear provides more than enough power to take on any incline.
The Rio has good acceleration and gradually increases speeds reaching 120 km/h in no time at all. Once you’re in sixth gear, the Rio will cruise along comfortably averaging a fuel economy anywhere between 6.0 and 7.0-litres/100km.
In terms of suspension, the front has sufficient grip and there is more than enough feedback through the steering wheel. The Kia Rio truly does inspire confidence on the open road with very little to no steering numbness. The rear suspension is a bit more lively and jumpy when not driving on the main roads but overall, it’s a great little car with a comfortable ride.
Driver Comfort And Features
Once again, we have to look at the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo to gauge exactly how the Rio compares in terms of tech, features and overall comfort. In particular, the Ford Fiesta 1.0 T Titanium and VW Polo 1.2 T Highline. With a price point somewhere in-between, the Kia Rio 1.4 Tec is well-rounded when it comes to onboard technology and features.
Starting with the seats, the Fiesta and Polo both offer cloth upholstery with leather as an optional extra, the Rio only gets standard leather. All three cars have electric windows while the Rio and Fiesta offer climate control/automatic air con which is optional on the Polo. The Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta also offer voice control and when it comes to parking perfection, only the Rio has a rearview camera. While this feature is optional on the VW Polo, it is not at all available on the Ford Fiesta.
When it comes to safety, the Rio offers six airbags, the Fiesta has seven and the Polo only offers four but at an extra cost, Volkswagen will add two more. Both the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo have stability control but the Kia Rio does not.
For those who love to compare numbers, the Fiesta’s 1.0-litre engine pushes out 92kW/170Nm while the Polo’s 1.2-litre offers 81kW/175Nm. Remember, both of these cars have turbocharged engines whereas the Kia Rio doesn’t – even more reason to be impressed by the little hatchback.
Should I Buy A Second-hand Kia Rio?
As most of us already know, Kia has only grown from strength to strength in the last few years with top quality vehicles. They are no longer considered as a second option as many motorists today prefer the Rio over the more established counterparts. While it may not have a turbocharged engine and lower monthly sales figures than the Fiesta and Polo, it’s certainly a very competitive package with exceptional value for money.
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Image source: Wikipedia