2017 Kia Rio Review

The little hatchback from Korea is a feel-good surprise that punches above its segment

By Shahzad Sheikh

To watch my 2017 Kia Rio Review video, click play below now.

I remember driving the first generation Kia Rio way back in the UK on rainy B-Roads and being convinced that it’s appalling handling, wayward steering, and soapy grip was going to kill me then and there, and cut short what obviously turned out to be a less than glittering career.


But I survived that ordeal and lived to tell the tale of the Rio that regrouped and has come back not just better than ever, but as a genuinely desirable little thing, that is a worthy addition to your city-car short list.


So what of this new 4th generation car? It’s grown, a little. 15mm in length, fractionally wider and lower than the previous iteration and is available as a four-door or five-door, and it’s the latter you want, because it looks right.


There’s two engines, a 1.4 four-cylinder 16 valve with 100bhp and 98lb ft of torque and a 1.6 four-cylinder 16 valve with 123bhp and 111lb ft of torque driving the front wheels through a six-speed auto. There’s no official performance figures, but I estimate 0-100kph in about 9.5 seconds.


Prices range from AED48,000 ($13k) to AED59,000 ($16k). Equipment on the top spec car you see here includes climate control, auto locking, keyless entry and start, tyre pressure monitoring, Bluetooth stereo, cruise control, sunroof, leather upholstery, reversing camera and 17 inch alloys.


A decent –size hatchback cargo space with split folding seats keeps it practical if you want to move stuff. Rear seating is okay for regular sized adults, but a bit tight if you’re on the tall side. The two-tone leather upholstered seats are appealing though. No centre armrests, but there is a USB plug.


The dashboard is very cleanly styled, contemporary and modern with almost a Mercedes-like look about it. And it seems to punch above its weight in terms of cabin appeal and appearance. They’ve also provided a thoughtful little shelf that’s perfect to put your smart phone on.


To drive it’s perfectly adequate in terms of performance, but the turn-in response, handling and grip is surprisingly good – so a big difference from that first gen car then!


Body control is not as tight as you might want, but that’s probably because the setup is compromised towards ride comfort which is very good indeed for the class.


Add to the overall ‘feel-good’ aspect to the car, which really did take me completely by surprise and frankly, for the money, this is great proposition with very little to complain about.


And if I could offer any advice to Kia, it would be simply to give us a proper hot version of this. Something with about 170-180bhp, a 0-100 of under 7 seconds, stripes and roof spoiler, perhaps 19-inch wheels, and a manual gearbox. Price it at about AED69,000 and I reckon you’d be onto a winner!


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