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Kia Rio: Virtuoso of value

2011-11-04 08:10

BUDGET CARNIVAL: The new Kia Rio is completely redesigned and sports a longer list of standard features and is incredibly fun to drive.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Kia
Model Rio 1.2 / 1.4
Engine Fuel-injected, four-cylinder, DOHC petrol.
Fuel Tank 43 litres
Service Plan Four years or 60 000km
Warranty Five years or 100 000km
Price 1.2 R137 000, 1.4 R155 000, 1.4 TEC R169 000


First impressions count lots these days — especially when talking about cars.

Kia* is a Korean brand that’s definitely going places. In just a few years on the South African market it has once again managed be a finalist in the annual SA Car of the Year competition, this time with its Picanto.

Two things become immediately obvious: the company is in it for the long haul and while there’s little doubt it makes damn good cars it also exports close to two million vehicles a year to 172 countries.


Just launched in South Africa is the latest Rio hatchbak (the fourth version) into the B segment. The sedan version will arrive in South Africa early 2012.
“The new Kia Rio is a car that people will want to buy for its looks, generous features and environmental credentials,” said Ray Levin, CEO of Kia SA.

After walking around the new Rio I’d say the brand has created a five-door hatch that’s truly bold, distinctive and practical. It’s also good-looking from any angle and even has daytime running lights.

NOT SHORT ON SPECS: The 2011 Kia Rio, depending on model, has a full house of creature comforts and driving aids.

Its profile, given the lowered roof, wedge shape and increased ratio of body-to-glass, it has a dynamic, sporty stance.

Two four-cylinder engines are available: a 1.2 (65kW/120Nm) and a lively 1.4 (79kW/135Nm). The former comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, the latter with a choice of six-speed manual or four-speed auto.

Only the 1.4 was available for driving on the media launch. It’s well up to providing safe, reliable motoring and even up on the Highveld with its altitude woes was quite happy going about its business.

Each model is well-specced: electric power-steering, power window, tilt and tip telescopic steering adjustment, central locking and aircon, radio/CD player with MP3/aux and USB plugs and finger controls on the steering wheel. Folding the 60:40 split rear seat offers take the 288 litres of cargo potential up to about 900 litres.

The 1.4 adds 15" alloys, front fog lghts, power folding mirrors, leather-clad steering wheel/gear shifter and automatic light controls that serve a welcome/escort function (perfect for those deserted car parks or dark side streets).

The Rio is well served with crash bags, manual headlight adjustment, childproof rear door locks, central locking, anti-lock brakes (with EBD) and a proper spare wheel.

CHOICE OF RIMS: Kia knows the value of smart wheels so the various models in the 2011 Kia Rio range offer a selection.

There’s a R14 000 premium for the flagship version of the Rio the 1.4 TEC, which adds 17" alloy rims, diode rear lights, a glove-box fridge, auto aircon leather upholstery, side and curtain crash bags, and a set of alloy pedals.

International and local accolades have come thick and fast for the brand so far in 2011, among them four world design awards. Kia SA has quite deservedly picked up a world distributor award, along with ISO14040 international status.

• Kia Rio prices start at R137 000; the 1.4 at R155 000 and the 1.4 TEC costs R169 000. There’s a five-year or 100 000km factory warranty, a four-year or 60 000km service plan and a three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance scheme.

*Kia is the oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles in Korea. It started in 1944 and more than 2.1-million vehicles a year are produced in 13 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries.


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