The unmissable red streak amongst the market of bland and neutral cars, behold the new Kia Rio which is on its way to the Indian shores. This Euro-spec car shows how a nippy subcompact hatchback can punch specs above its weight.
We can’t stop the appreciation but continue to be fascinated by the all new Kia Rio 2018. The lowest priced hatchback from the Korean brand Kia, which is already doing well in regions like the United States, Europe, etc. This hatch can show how to make remarkable and well planted progress with each generation, moreover, with this update, it shows the emerging of a new global player.
Although we didn’t got much time for hands-on with the Rio, but spending 2 days with the Fourth Generation Rio and we are already fascinated by the car’s output on road. This Rio being built upon the Hyundai/Kia shared KP2 architecture platform has wide support and spares being a shared platform. Furthermore, the hassle free running of i20 shows that Rio can ensure a strong foothold if marketed and priced correctly.
KIA RIO FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
India is bound to get the hatchback version of the Rio only, although globally the hatchback and sedan versions are both available to buy in the market. The hatch is no more 2 door and a full fledged 5-door hatch with a wide practicality. This is a much serious car with a aggressive body line and a front design straight from the concept phase with minimal changes. With a upright front end and a prominent shoulder line, this is design statement. Customers will happily accept the Rio with such prominent design clues.
Enter the car and it leaves nothing to be desired more. Every bit and piece of the car inside feels upmarket, plush and a generation ahead. The solid interior creates a lasting impression on the mind for sure. Switches have enough feedback, soft-touch plastics have a nice touch to them, the fitting is even everywhere, still yearning for more? Open the nice smooth infotainment system, which is very smooth and the Indian variant is expected to get the Android Auto and Apple Carplay unit too.
The Rio even though having a small footprint of 4m, offers plenty of space for 4 occupants leaving space for a 5th one easily. And not to miss, the 288 L boot space at the rear for those unplanned long trips. The seats are comfortable with ample of shoulder support. The faux leather used doesn’t feel cheap at all. Also, how can we forget to mention the presence of the sunroof on a car with such a small footprint. The lack of lumbar support might make it a bit of uncomfortable on longer drives. The sunroof is highly welcome to the market given its presence adds a premium feel to the car.
TECH ON OFFER:
Creature comforts on the Euro market are more than to ask from. They include lane departure warning, automated braking system, Android Auto / Apple Carplay unit, heated steering wheel and many more. These options are exclusive to the markets offshore, we highly doubt India would receive them keeping the cost in mind. Our car was fitted with the LDW (Lane Departure Warning) which performed surprisingly effortlessly even with indian traffic. Moreover, the upmarket LED projector lights and DRLs make it one of a looker.
The Kia Rio gets three engine options globally, the 1.4L turbo diesel, a 99hp 1L turbo-petrol and a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder 1.2L petrol engine. The manual transmission is a no slouch and is quite responsive. Our car had the entry level 1.2L block which puts out a happy 83bhp and was zippy enough in traffic. The exhaust note is a bit sporty being considerably noticeable at higher revs. In our test, even with 4 passengers on-board, the car could easily hit 100 kmph without any hassle. Thanks to the euro-spec suspension and Continental rubber for the traction to do high speed cornering without any tyre screeches. The noise volume level inside the cabin is quite refined. It feels truly upmarket with the only nearest competitor being the i20 and Polo.
This Kia Rio is quieter on inside than most of it’s rivals, but the ride is firmer than the current indian options available. We would have to wait for the Indian variant to test out the suspension. The suspension gives a firm ride and a sense of confidence at high speeds but it is easily bottomed down on bigger bumps. The steering is relatively light and builds up speed naturally. Rio feels settled most of the times and the car’s handling is very predictable. The Rio we drove had 17 inch diamond cut alloys and we do hope that the indian market gets them. Also our ride on euro-spec suspension had 150mm of ground clearance.
Currently we hope that the car on offer will only be a manual variant but we hope to see the globally present 6 speed automatic gearbox for the Rio. Furthermore, commenting about the brakes, the 4 disc brakes have sufficient bite to them and braking feels confident. There wasn’t much of nosedive thanks to the stiffer suspension. These specs are on-par with the current offerings in the market.
The competition to the premium hatchback is a meagre handful in India. The likes include the Volkswagen Polo GT TSi (too outdated for the fit, finish and price), the Honda Jazz (a.k.a Fit), the Baleno RS and in the near-whiles of Ford Freestyle.
So the end question remains, should you buy the Kia Rio?
Our outright answer will be a logical Yes! Because, why not, if you are looking for a premium hatchback with nifty tech and outright performance, why shouldn’t you go for this. Being the 3rd most selling model from the brand, the car involves a lot of R&D behind it. It’s even more practical on the space than competition. None of the rivals can be a happy space for the 5th passenger in it’s class. Furthermore, the unexpected driver engagement in a car with such a small footprint makes it undoubtedly a worthy option in the game. But the firm opinion still awaits the confirmed Indian Specifications. Most important being the feature lists, the options and most importantly the pricing. Hope we see more cars like the Kia Rio upping the game with more driver engagement and ease of ownerships.