Mid-spec mandate

It feels brief for the more compact car is ever-expanding and vehicles like the Kia Rio are perfect for giving the segment a more meaningful name. The updated 2019 Kia Rio Sport replaces the now nonexistent mid-range Si and SLi, with the Rio Sport now the middle ground offering in between the Rio S and top-spec Rio GT-Line.

What is under the bonnet? 

This mid-spec Sport model holds a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine 74kW/144Nm with the entry-level S. A six-speed manual is common, but the Sport model adds two extra gears to its six-speed automatic.  The Rio Sport range is similar to what the Mazda2 automatic would offer. While being considered as the next step up from the popular Toyota Yaris. 

On the go around the suburbs, the Kia Rio’s performance was perfectly fit for purpose and its nimble handling with light steering makes it such a breeze to handle. I felt a good connection through the pedals, with a lively response when you put your foot down. In terms of ease of driving and overall ride comfort, the Kia Rio does not disappoint.

Our test vehicle was riding on good looking 17-inch alloys standard for Sport with Continental tyres that delivered a quiet ride on unforgiving suburban tarmac. The Rio’s 45-litre fuel tank takes regular unleaded fuel and at the end of my week’s predominantly urban road test, I recorded an average fuel consumption of 10.1L/100km. 

The front cabin of the Kia Rio

This is where the Kia Rio exceeded my expectations, the Kia Rio tackles its cabin storage and functional design very well. Kia takes a very practical approach to cabin design, where things place naturally – like the charge points being right above a good-sized oddment hole and dual coffee cup holders that can actually accommodate two cups at once.

It’s also got a deep lidded armrest that’s great for stashing things away from prying eyes of children in the back seat. The seats offer great adjustability and the steering wheel is tilted for reach, giving all drivers the best chance to find comfort in their driving position. 

Good kit despite notable absences

The Kia Rio is equipped with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Also including, cruise control, reversing camera, 7.0-inch infotainment screen and a six-speaker sound system incorporating Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming.

Few inclusions differentiate the mid-spec Rio: 17-inch wheels, electric heated folding mirrors, cruise control, and a premium shift and steering wheel to be precise. The active safety and cool styling kit you’ll crave belongs with the Rio GT-Line – think AEB, Lane keep assist, LED lights, gloss exterior finishes, premium seats, and a punchy 1.0-litre engine and seven-speed dual clutch transmission. 

Room to grow and stow?

The Kia Rio can easily accommodate five passengers, although for the back seat riders it could become a little tight for bigger adults. Comfort is pretty good back here, with one USB charge point, a back seat pocket and room for drink bottles in the door pockets. The seats are comfy and visibility is good. There’s nothing much to complain about really. 

The 325-litre boot growing to 980 litres with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats flipped flat is good for the segment and a perfect fit for the family needs. It features four fairly flimsy anchor points, two bag hooks, and a light. You’ll find a temporary spare wheel under the boot floor.

How safe is the Kia Rio?

In 2017 the Kia Rio was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and it’s worth noting that the Kia Rio S and Sport miss out on autonomous emergency braking AEB, which comes standard on the top-spec GT-Line only.

What did I think of the 2019 Kia Rio?

I honestly feel the Kia Rio is hard not to like, and the Sports model has been more than enjoyable to drive, making it a solid entry-level offering in the smaller car range. The Kia Rio Sport passed the suburban family test and even avoided the scorn of my discerning eye. If you’re after budget buying without being bland, the Kia Rio has got to be on your shopping list.

 

The main 2019 Kia Rio specs: 

Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol

Output: 74kW/144Nm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Fuel: 10.1L/100km (as tested)

CO2: (ADR Combined)

Safety rating: five-star ANCAP (2017)

 

Click the link to see our Kia Demonstrator models: http://bit.ly/2mabbet

 

Sourced: Nadine Armstrong