Following hot off its debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the upgraded and enhanced KIA Rio has arrived in South Africa. Comprising hatch and sedan body styles, the subtle yet stylish exterior updates and notable interior upgrades have breathed new life into the Rio range, which is set to remain KIA’s bestselling model.
An award-winning package
Launched globally in 2011, the fourth-generation KIA Rio was an immediate hit across the world. In its first year on sale, it won several prestigious “Car of the Year” awards (Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, Australia), while The Chicago Athenaeum in the USA awarded it a Good Design Award in the same year. The Rio also became one of the first winners in Germany’s Automotive Brand Contest, scooping up yet another design award.
The trophy cabinet was enlarged for 2012, with the Rio again winning a number of “Car of the Year” and “Best Buy” awards across the globe (Russia, Portugal, Scotland, the USA, Australia). Importantly, the Rio won a red dot design award in Germany and an IDEA Design Award in the USA, while scoring first place in the China Association of Quality’s China Quality Survey – following it up in 2013 by topping the China Automobile Customer Satisfaction Index. Needless to say, the trophy cabinet had to be remeasured in 2013. And again in 2014.
In South Africa, the Rio soon became KIA South Africa’s bestselling model, scoring a nomination as finalist in the 2012 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year competition. The Rio has also been a consistent star in the Standard Bank People’s Wheels Award. Most recently, in 2014, it starred against one luxury German competitor and ran rings around the other to scoop the “Best Compact Commuter” award.
The Rio, with 471,000 units sold in 2014 alone, remains KIA Motors’ bestselling model globally. Upon the reveal of the updated Rio at the Paris Motor Show in 2014, Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer for KIA Motors Europe, noted that the improvements to this model are of major significance.
“The immense popularity of the Rio shows that our designers and engineers got most things ‘right’ when creating the fourth-generation of our compact B-segment challenger in 2011,” he commented. “The Rio retains the core attributes that have proved so popular with owners, while enhancements to the 2015 model include a slight visual makeover, giving it a fresh exterior and interior look.”
Minor exterior updates for a more stylish and premium appearance
Under the direction of Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer of KIA Motors Corporation, the Rio design team in Korea has updated the Rio’s ‘tiger-nose grille’ and given the car a newly designed front bumper and fog lights.
As with the original, there are subtle differences between the front-end design of the hatch and sedan, with most notable difference being the design of the grille and bumper: the hatchback features a sportier design with lower air intakes and front fog lights, while the sedan has a more stylish and integrated design. A new rear bumper on the hatchback completes the exterior makeover.
Exterior dimensions and body styles remain unaltered, but three new alloy wheel designs have been added to the line-up to refresh the Rio’s profile, most notably on the range-topping 1.4 TEC. A new paint finish – Urban Blue – has been added to the colour line-up.
New trim for a more stylish interior
Highly regarded for its stylish and roomy interior, updates to the enhanced Rio’s interior have been limited to upgraded materials and trims. The cabin is brightened by the addition of chrome accents around the four dashboard air-vents, while a newly designed centre-stack around the audio system now features piano black trim for a decidedly stylish and premium look and feel. All other interior dimensions and specification levels remain unchanged.
Two body styles, two engines, and three transmissions
Both the Rio hatch and Rio sedan will still be available with a choice of two efficient petrol engines, mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission, 6-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission.
At the entry level is KIA’s well-known 1.2-litre Kappa engine, which generates 65 kW at 6 000 r/min and 120 Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Kia’s advanced “Kappa” family of engines feature dual CVVT, with a cast aluminium block, offset crankshaft, maintenance-free timing chain and low-friction ‘beehive’ valve springs. These technologies significantly improve efficiency and reduce exhaust emissions. Acceleration to 100 km/h takes 13.1 seconds and top speed is 168 km/h.
A popular and well-proven power unit in Kia’s engine line-up, the 1.4 Gamma engine features friction-reducing modifications and dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) to achieve a responsive performance and competitively modest fuel consumption. With maximum output of 79 kW at 6 300 r/min and peak torque of 135 Nm at 4 200 r/min, the Rio 1.4 6-speed manual model accelerates to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 183 km/h. A 4-speed automatic transmission is available as an option.
Value for money
The KIA brand has become renowned for offer vehicles of exceptional design and quality, but above all notable value for money and competitive pricing. KIA’s class-leading 5-year/150 000km warranty remains standard, as does a 4-year/60 000km service plan. Pricing for the hatch and sedan is as follows:
Rio 1.2 Manual R 176 995.00
Rio 1.4 Manual R 199 995.00
Rio 1.4 Auto R 211 995.00
Rio 1.4 TEC Manual R 212 995.00
Rio 1.4 TEC Auto R 224 995.00
An optional sunroof is available on the Rio 1.4 TEC for an additional R7 000.