Car Review: Kia - Rio  Series 01 (3 stars)

The Kia Rio is a sensible car for sensible money - it's all terribly sensible

Kia has established itself as the marque of choice for someone with a tight budget looking for a reasonable car. That is a big step forward - in the early 1990s, the cars were aimed at the misguided and gullible. It's a laudable aim - nothing too fancy, servicing a need that people have for no-frills transport. Superminis and city cars in particular are a Kia forte.

For the money that Kia asks in return for these cars you very often can't do better - immediate competition is getting the bus instead, or taking the occasional taxi and walking. There are some dodgy superminis about the place where you probably would prefer to walk, but the Kia Rio is not one of them.

With a price of just over £8,000 for the entry-level car (which even includes air-conditioning as standard) you can't really go wrong. The Rio is not a class-leading car, but it is good, solid, sensible transport.

The styling of the Rio isn't as dynamic as some competitors, but you won't misplace it in the supermarket car park either. Indeed, from a certain angle there's even something slightly handsome about it.

Cabin plastics do feel cheap inside, but for the money that's what you're going to get. The dashboard layout is practical and easy to use and there is plenty of room up front for the driver, even if there is a lack of adjustability once you're installed.

The cabin is spacious, and whilst the seats are split-folding numbers as standard, the Rio lacks the nifty touches of the Honda Jazz. Four people will inside the car in reasonable comfort, and the boot is a decent size too.

The 1.4-petrol engine on offer with the Rio didn't manage to win us over, feeling gasping and underpowered for our tastes. Luckily the 1.5-litre diesel unit is plenty powerful enough, offering lots of torque and reasonable fuel economy too. It's a no brainer for us.

Unfortunately for the willing engine, the handling doesn't have the same levels of get-up-and-go. The steering is perfunctory at best, and the front tyres lack any sort of communication that would allow you to push the car. On the positive side, the ride is soft enough for your slow pace to at least be comfortable.

The biggest downside for what remains a reasonably-priced car - that is, once you resigned yourself to the insipid handling - is the duff aftermarket stereo. But you can't win 'em all...

Kia Rio Series 01 StatisticsCar Reviews

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