Kia Rio SLI
BY THE NUMBERS
- It costs: $26,513
- It has: A 103-kilowatt turbocharged 1.6-litre with a six-speed auto.
- We got: 11 litres per 100km in the city, 6.9 in the country. The official combined figure is 6.1.
It took me a while to get comfortable in this. Getting the right mix between the seat and steering wheel takes some experimentation. Until I was persuaded to be a bit more ruthless with the accelerator, kicking down to a lower gear or two, I thought it was a bit sluggish. This is all stuff you sort out after a few days but on a short test drive it can be off-putting.
The Rio is primarily for couples; the rear seat is for children and maybe adults on short stays only. But the boot is pretty generous given the car’s compact dimensions and a big shop will fit, albeit tightly.
I liked the upholstery, the layout and the tactile steering wheel, the big, clear instruments and the positioning of the trip computer. Pairing my phone took two attempts and then I couldn’t call up numbers, otherwise the software is straightforward.
It has parking sensors, climate control and auto headlights but, given the price, I would have liked a reversing camera and embedded navigation.
Pricing is critical in this market; the bargain is Suzuki’s five-door Swift at $15,990 while Kia’s Rio starts at $13,990 for the three-door and $16,990 for five doors. At those prices, it’s competitive buying against things like the Mazda 2 ($16,990 with five doors) and the five-door Yaris ($18,236). But start moving up the range and Rio prices rise sharply.
The SLI is the top model with a more powerful engine and six-speed auto, and it costs more than the top Mazda 2 and the top Yaris.
While you might be able to justify the difference with extra equipment (the Rio SLI at least gets a full-size spare wheel), this is essentially an optioned- up version of the $16,990 model. The suspension is tight, meaning a fairly sharp ride and it gets noisy over coarse bitumen and poor surfaces.
The transmission has been calibrated around fuel economy, so it can be reluctant to change down, but the motor is a willing little performer and it copes.
- Cheaper models present superior value
TO TEST DRIVE
- Northern Kia, 429-443 Grimshaw Street, Bundoora
- 9466 5888