What is it?
Kia's Rio gets an all-new body that's larger yet lower than before for a sportier profile, more spacious cabin and bigger 288-litre boot. An 80kW/138Nm 1.4-litre engine under the bonnet has a claimed 6.4l/100km thirst plus a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension set-up that delivers compliant ride over the bumpiest of roads, and confident handling.
Rio's strong design inside and out, and fresh little touches like the contrast weave insets for the seat. The generous specification for the $25,790 price with six airbags, stability control, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear-park sensors, rain-sensing wipers and auto and cornering lights for this EX-spec test car.
The four-speed transmission. That may not worry most as Rio is brisk off the line and we were happy enough round town. But my Waitakere Ranges commute called for another gear.. Fuel economy suffers as a result; I averaged 8.2l/100km.
The chassis is capable enough and the 1.4-litre motor is willing. Only the gearbox lets it down. Buy a manual for six speeds and auto-stop, or wait for the 66kW/22Nm 1.4 diesel arriving next month.By Jacqui Madelin