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Driven: 2017 Kia Rio 1.4 Tec

2017-06-09 12:35

Sean Parker

NEW RIO: Kia's Rio hatch has been updated for 2017 with an all-new model locally. The new model features a redesigned but familiar front-end. Image: Motorpress

Johannesburg - Fact: Kia South Africa’s best-selling model is the Rio. The South Korean automaker has sold 37 327 Rio models from 2011 to 2016. 

The automaker has launched its fourth-generation Rio hatchback locally and I drove through it in the bustling metropolis of Joburg.

The only derivative available to media was the top-of-the-range ‘Tec’ model, which retails for R274 995 (six-speed manual)... you’ll have to fork out an additional R13 000 for the optional four-speed auto if that’s your preference. 

The model line-up remains the same except for an EX specification model that retails for R249 995. Hats off to Kia for maintaining the prices or just marginally increasing them depending on which model you buy. 

Read more about the details here

Is it a good city car? 

I’ll start with the positives: noise, vibration and harshness levels are on par with the segment-dominating Volkswagen Polo, that’s due to re-profiled door trims and new headlining materials. 

It’s also a very roomy hatch, boasting legroom of 1070m at the front and 850mm in the rear. The boot is an impressive 325 litres large with thinner c-pillars offering a reduced blind spot compared to the previous model. 

The new generation Rio is as comfortable as its predecessor, the new car has a stiffer bodyshell which offers a more compliant ride even while traversing Joburg’s pothole-scarred roads. 

Kia says the latest model offers 5% quicker steering ratio by virtue of re-positioning the power steering gearbox. 

The steering is light and airy, exactly what city-dwelling drivers need. It lacks any proper feedback or feel, which, considering its market, isn’t a bad thing.  

GALLERY: 2017 Kia Rio 

The 1.4-litre petrol engine sans a turbocharger produces 74kW/135Nm. It felt gutless on the Reef (read: high altitude) and the test car, fresh off the shipping container, only had 400km on the odometer. 

The sixth gear (or overdrive as it's also known) seems like a waste because there’s simply nothing left for it to push along, so a five-speeder would have sufficed. 

My drive was very brief, but I can draw a few conclusions from it; Kia has done exceptionally well to offer the new gen Rio at pretty much the same price as the outgoing model. 

The entry-level LS model offers aircon, power windows, power side-mirrors, central locking (with an alarm and immobiliser), radio (with MP3, Aux and USB connectivity), multifunction steering wheel, rake and reach adjustable steering and a rear USB port.

The EX and Tec models are Android-ready and I could link up to the efficient Apple Carplay in seconds. 

It’s now more kitted-out than before, with better NVH and more space it’s an option consumers shouldn’t ignore and I’ll bet a lot of money they won’t. Peace of mind comes in the form of a five- year or unlimited km warranty as standard.

Does it move the B-segment forward in a tangible way? No, but with junk status and escalating car prices, downsizing makes a lot of sense for buyers and automaker's alike. And I have no doubt the Rio will continue to be a best seller locally for the brand. 

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Rio range pricing 

1.2 LS Manual - R219995

1.4 LX Manual - R234 995

1.4 EX Manual - R249 995

1.4 TEC Manual - R274 995

More from Kia 

The fourth generation Rio sedan is no longer built in right-hand drive and thus won’t be available locally, Kia has opted to sell the third gen along the new hatch. 

Kia will launch its all-new Picanto in July 2017 and possibly the best news is that the Stinger, Kia’s fastest accelerating car yet will be available in 2018. Kia Motors South Africa says the Stinger is not yet confirmed for the local market, but is looking into availability in SA.

Read more on the Picanto and Stinger here. 

Read more on:    kia motors  |  rio  |  sean parker  |  johannesburg  |  new model

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