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MOTORING: 2017 Kia Rio SLi

The new Kia Rio is the fourth-generation of the Korean car maker’s small car although it’s not so small as once it was which is good news for those looking for a small, but practical car. It also has improved vision all round.

The styling for the new Rio was led by Kia’s Californian design team with oversight by the brand’s master of crayons, Peter Schreyer (Schreyer is ex-Audi and responsible for the design revolution of the Kia brand). The Rio still wears Kia’s distinctive ‘Tiger Nose’ grille but it’s thinner and wider with a gloss black grill cover on the mid- and upper-spec Si and SLi models. These models also get U-shapped LED daytime running lights. The bonnet, given the car is longer, has been stretched, while at the rear the Rio has a shorter overhang, and a near upright rear windscreen. The rear lights on the SLi are LED.

All up, the new Rio is a more mature looking car than it’s ever been and, if you taped over the badge, could easily be parked next to anything from Europe and fit right in.

Like the outside, the inside of the new Rio is straighter (the old model featured a more rounded dash board) and more mature looking. It’s also more practical with some class leading features, like the sat-nav in the Si and SLi variants. Adding the sense that the interior is wider than it was is the fact the air vents now run horizontally rather than vertically as on the old model.

Dominating the dashboard is a 7.0-inch touchscreen that offers Apple Car Play and Android Auto across the range, although Si and SLi offer native satellite navigation. There are USB outlets in both the front and back of the car across all model grades.

There’s only one interior colour scheme, black, but there are three trim levels, with the entry-level S getting fabric seats, the Si getting embossed fabric seats and the top-spec SLi getting a faux leather trim that doesn’t feel at all fake.

There’s a lot of scratchy plastic even in the top-spec SLi, but because it’s all in places you won’t touch all that often and looks like it’s a soft-touch surface there’s little to complain about really. The stuff that you will be touching regularly, like the steering wheel, the gear shifter and the buttons surrounding the touchscreen and the climate controls all feel solid and good quality.

Other practical touches included a small shelf with a rubberised base to hold your phone and bottle holders in the door that will hold 1.5L bottles, while those in the rear will hold 500mL bottles.

Climb into the back seat and there is a comfortable amount of legroom. Head and shoulder room are good too.

For parents, there are three top tether anchor points while only the two outboard seats have ISOFIX mounts.

The boot has grown by 37 litres and is now a decent 325 litres (980 litres with the back seats folded down).

The new Rio gets just one engine for the range. That engine is a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 74kW at 6000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 4000rpm. This engine is mated to a four-speed automatic, although a six-speed manual is available in the entry-level S variant. Fuel consumption for the automatic-equipped variant is 6.2L/100km combined, or 5.6L/100km for the manual-equipped S variant.




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