When we first drove the all-new Kia Rio, we were impressed to say the least. In fact we asked the question, “Segment champion?” Selling 31 848 units worldwide in December 2011 I think its safe to say we were pretty much on the mark with this car. Whether you’re talking about Russia or South Africa, the world is loving the Rio. Can the new sedan (saloon) continue the success story?
In terms of design, many a great-looking hatchback has been ruined by the addition of a boot, but not the Rio. It still maintains its stylish appeal, now just with more space and practicality. Kia hopes to attract young families to this model and as we see more buyers buying ‘down’ into the B-segment I cannot think of another competitor that hits the nail on the head as well as the Rio does, if just on standard specification alone.
Driving the Kia Rio Sedan
As with the hatch, the sedan’s cabin is spacious, elegant and highlighted by trim materials that lend an impression of good perceived quality. I drove the 1,4 TEC with its leather seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. Also standard on this model are rear parking sensors, a glove box with cooling function, climate control, alloy foot pedals, bluetooth connectivity, multifunction steering wheel, radio/CD front loader with MP3/iPod/USB connection, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and an automatic de-fogging function for the ventilation system. That’s a lot of kit for the manual car’s R173 995 asking price.
The sedan range
The new Rio sedan will be available with the option of two petrol engines (1,25 and 1,4 litres) and three models (1,2, 1,4 and 1,4 TEC). The 1,4 TEC is offered with a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. I first drove the automatic and was really impressed with the smooth gear changes. The transmission is a bit slow to respond to aggressive throttle input when overtaking, but its performance is otherwise perky and pretty much what you’d expect from an automatic car developing 79 kW of power.
Electric power steering systems have been known to feel a bit light and artificial and Kia has been criticised for this in the past, but in this saloon version the car’s helm felt better weighted than in the hatchback and gave positive feedback. When I stepped into the manual I was as impressed with its good power delivery and with a quick gearshift from sixth to fourth gear you will experience an engine that is lively, as CAR journalist Wilhelm Lutjeharms said regarding the hatchback’s engine, “just remember to use the revs.”
There is sufficient rear legroom and the boot capacity is more than sufficent with a claimed 389 dm3 on offer. Kia wants to appeal to the emotional as well as the practical side of young individuals and I have no doubt that the Rio sedan’s mixture of good looks, generous specification and solid performance will appeal to families looking for the added space and practicality that the hatch cannot provide.
Model line up and pricing
All Rio sedan models come standard with a 4-year/60 000 km service plan, a 5-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as 3-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.
Kia Rio 1,2 MT R141 995
Kia Rio 1, 4 MT R159 995
Kia Rio 1,4 AT R169 995
Kia Rio 1,4 TEC MT R173 995
Kia Rio 1,4 TEC AT R183 995
Model name: Kia Rio Sedan 1,4 TEC
Engine: 1,4-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 79 kW at 6 300 r/min
Torque: 135 N.m at 4 200 r/min
0-100 km/h: 11,5 seconds
Top speed: 183 km/h
Price: R183, 995
Service plan: 4 years/60 000 km
Warranty: 5 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: 15 000 km
All claimed figures