Kia Ireland has been kept busy this week as they launch the all-new Kia Rio to the Irish market. The new Kia Rio is bigger and certainly more stylish than before. It faces fierce competition from the ever-popular selection of superminis to the Irish market, with the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo, and Skoda Fabia to name just a few, all contending for the hearts and minds of potential Irish car buyers.
The all-new Rio goes on sale in Ireland this week and customers can expect to pay €15,950 for an entry-level model. There are plenty of trim lines available to our market and entry-level "L" trim comes mated to a 1.2-litre petrol engine with a 5-speed manual transmission and 85bhp. They are also making a 1.4-litre diesel engine available with a choice of 77 or 90bhp. The manufacturer tells us that there will be a 1.0-litre engine available soon. KIA expects that the 1.2-litre petrol in EX trim will be the big seller in our market - this starts from €18,150. The top of the line "Platinum" trim starts from €20,450. The car is also available with a 5 or 6-speed transmission.
The Rio has proven popular around the world, and during 2016 KIA managed to shift 450,000 units - which accounts for 15% of their annual sales. The new Rio has a longer wheel base (10mm longer) and the body itself is 15mm longer. This means that the rear offers good-for-a-supermini leg room in the back row, and two adults should fit easily in there. While the rear overhang is shorter, the boot of the Rio offers 325 litres of space, which means that you should get more into this than you would into a Fiesta or even a VW Polo. However, the Skoda Fabia and the Honda Jazz set a larger benchmark in terms of boot space. The exterior has a wider grille to the front and it certainly looks stronger and more dynamic than before.
Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough with the new Rio to form a full opinion about how it drives. From our short spin with the car though, we found the diesel engine to grumble a bit on turnover, but this evens-out on the road. The petrol is quieter. The car seems to have nice grip on the bendy country roads that we drove on. A supermini like this belongs in the city though, and we're yet to drive it in that type of environment. Is it as fun as the Fiesta to drive? Well, we'll have to hold back on answering that until we get a full drive of this vehicle (which is pencilled in for June 2017). The steering is direct and responsive, while the fully-independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle suspension was very-able for the flat country roads that we drove the car on. On-paper, we're told that the petrol engine will get you from 0-100km/h in 12.9 seconds and Kia quotes 4.8 litres per 100km as a combined fuel economy. The diesel model will take you from 0-100km/h in 12 seconds (90bhp model) and 14 seconds (77bhp model). Kia claims 3.8 and 3.7 l/100km respectively for these models.
James Brooks, Managing Director of Kia Motors Ireland, said: “This segment is extremely competitive both in Europe and in Ireland but we are confident that this new model can make an impact in the Irish market. Though most of our customers are buying bigger cars, Rio is a particularly iconic model that has helped introduce the Kia brand to Irish consumers since we first entered the Irish market some 13 years ago and we were extremely proud when the 3rd generation model won Irish Car of the Year on its introduction in 2011. Designed and engineered to meet the needs and desires of a wider range of buyers, the new Rio will play an increasingly important role in the Kia model line-up. The B-segment is the third largest segment in the Irish market and we hope that it will make a significant contribution to the continued growth of the brand in Ireland.”
Kia have been on somewhat of a model offensive over the last year with new Sportage, Niro, Optima SW and more, making it's way over to our shores. The new Rio appears to be a breath of fresh air for KIA in this segment, so we'll eagerly watch this space to see how the Irish market reacts.