Kia’s Rio gets a boot(y) call

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IOL mot pic apr26 Kia Rio Sedan 1 . New Rio Sedan is the icing on the cake for a model line that could become the best-selling passenger car in our market.

Shortly after the launch of Kia's Rio Hatch in November 2011, the Korean VW Polo competitor became the brand's best-selling car globally and locally, and now it's also available as a four-door sedan.

Launched in South Africa earlier this week, the new Rio Sedan is the icing on the cake for a model line that could become the best-selling passenger car in our market - full stop.

Though normally tight-lipped about the number of cars it sells in SA, we managed to extract a figure of about 1500 Rio Hatches a month from Kia at the Sedan's launch event held in Pretoria. This means that, combined with potential Sedan sales, the Rio line could creep up on SA's best-selling passenger car - the Polo Vivo, which sold 2800 units in March.

The Rio Sedan is based heavily on sister brand Hyundai's Accent, but in recent Kia form is much the better looking of the two.

In my opinion it's the best looking B-segment sedan available.

The new version, which is the fourth-generation Rio, is longer, wider and lower than the previous model.

IOL mot pic apr26 Kia Rio Sedan 2 Fourth-generation Rio is longer, wider and lower than the previous model. .

Engine choices include a fleet, rep, and rental-friendly 1.2-litre petrol with 65kW and 120Nm, but the more popular choice among private owners will be the 79kW/135Nm 1.4, also petrol powered. Base 1.2 models come with five-speed manual transmissions only, but 1.4s come with a choice of either six-speed manual or four-speed automatics.

As is usually the case with Korean models, the smaller engine option is lacking in some of the specification of the upper models, but even so all 1.2’s come with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, electric windows, central locking, two airbags, steering wheel controls and air conditioning. Move up to the 1.4 and add auto folding mirrors, a centre armrest, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearknob, see-me-home headlights and a much fancier looking instrument cluster.

WORTHY COMPETITOR

For this car Kia has also included a range-topping TEC specification which includes leather seats, 17” alloys, cooled glove box, LED headlight trims, rain-sensing wipers, four extra airbags, rear park assist and a special UV protection windscreen.

To add 17” wheels to lower Rio Sedans will cost R3000, and an optional sunroof in the TEC is R6 000.

My test drive was very short, but proved that the Rio is a worthy competitor to other B-segment cars in SA. Build quality, though not quite up to the same level as the new Polo, is extremely good and its features-for-money ratio is incredible.

IOL mot pic apr26 Kia Rio Sedan 3 Build quality is good and its features-for-money ratio is incredible. .

Skip the old-school four-speed auto unless absolutely necessary, but spend the extra for the top TEC. Kia's standard five year or 100 000km warranty is a nice deal clincher. - Star Motoring

PRICES

Rio Sedan 1.2 - R142 000

Rio Sedan 1.4 - R160 000

Rio Sedan 1.4 A/T - R170 000

Rio Sedan 1.4 TEC - R174 000

Rio Sedan 1.4 A/T TEC - R184 000

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