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There is the odd occasion when a car lights my fire immediately, such was the Kia Rio GT –Line S which I had for test purposes and I have to admit, I kept making reasons top go places just to get behind the wheel of this little gem!

Satisfying in every respect, performance, handling and comfort, they all came together to provide rewarding drives. The Rio’s suspension is based on independent MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear, completely retuned, which does enhance driver involvement, while extending the compliance and comfort of the ride, aided considerably by the much stiffer body shell of the new model compared to its predecessor.

Now in its fourth generation, the updated Rio has a refreshed front design exuding style and sportiness and a number of other tweaks simplify the car’s design, creating a tasteful and uncluttered appearance. The refreshed design retains the car’s iconic ‘tiger-nose’ grille, narrowed for a more focused appearance and matched by a lower, wider front bumper and distinctive new fog lamp housing. The result, the front is smoother, yet a more purposeful appearance, delivering more on road presence. Kia really pulled out the stops for the new Rio, one of the company’s top sellers globally; a joint effort led by the company’s studios in Frankfurt and at Irvine, California, with input from the main design centre at Namyang in South Korea.

Moving to the well appointed interior, and the new model features a series of visual, material and technological upgrades to create a more upscale atmosphere and enhance quality. The main update is a new larger eight inch widescreen, and a higher-resolution 4.2 inch digital display in the driver’s instrument cluster, both featured on grades ‘2’ and above. My test example the ‘GT-Line S features a black cloth and faux leather upholstery with silver contrast stitching on the seats, and a carbon fibre-effect dashboard for added visual impact. All models are equipped with driver seat height adjustability, helping the driver to find their ideal position; not on the front passenger seat. For a small car there is generous front and rear head, leg and shoulder room, which are all among the best in class and the boot is among the biggest in the B-segment at 325 litres and expands to 1,103 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded. A tyre repair kit is provided in place of a spare wheel to maximise luggage capacity and make space for a larger fuel tank of 45 litres. The cabin of the new Rio has been designed around the touch screen for the infotainment, navigation and connectivity features and is pleasingly sculpted and ergonomic. The dashboard is angled towards the driver, creating a sporty feel and I am delighted to report ease of use of the info systems etc.

The heart of the GT-Line S is a 99bhp one litre T-GDi engine which is offered with a six-speed manual transmission or Kia’s seven-speed auto Dual-Clutch Transmission (7DCT). My test example had the latter and for me it plays a major role in the drive quality of this impressive B segment car. For me the combination of engine and transmission plays a major role in setting this car apart from many of its rivals. I should add that the engine is a three cylinder and looking at the official performance figures, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 9.8 second with a top speed of 190kph (118mph.) I must admit that particularly, in terms of acceleration, I reckon it was better than the official figure; it did react immediately when the right foot was applied.

Summing up it has been a very long time since I enjoyed a small car as much a winner in every respect and it comes with one of the best warranty packages currently available.

Ian Lynas



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