Kia unveils much improved Rio

Time of article published Mar 1, 2011

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Kia pulled the covers off its all-new Rio at the Geneva Motor Show today and it looks to be a huge step forward for Kia's B-segment fight.

Taking the battle to the likes of Ford's Fiesta and VW's Polo, the Rio boasts a far more striking design that follows the trends laid out by other modern Kias like the Sportage.

A more practical contender too, the new Rio is 20mm longer, 25mm wider yet 15mm lower than its predecessor, while the wheelbase grows by 70mm to lend a welcome boost to passenger space. Boot volume has grown too, but still nothing spectacular at 288 litres.

The cabin is also said to boast a more premium feel due to the use of more sophisticated materials and trimmings.

This mentality extends to the features list, where the Rio will be available with items such as keyless entry and start, automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands free with voice recognition and LED daytime running lights.

It will also be offered with the option of a three-door body style for the first time ever, this in addition to the five-door hatch you see here and the four-door sedan that's no doubt on the way.

Kia South Africa expects the newcomer to reach our shores around the third quarter of this year, but the company cannot as yet confirm the local engine line-up.

The European market has an interesting line-up though, with four highly efficient new three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel motors on offer.

The petrol range kicks off with a 1.25-litre 16-valve dual CVVT unit that puts out 63kW and 118Nm and gets from 0-100km/h in 13 seconds. The flagship, for now, is an 80kW/136Nm 1.4-litre with a similar configuration and, according to Kia, the ability to sprint to 100km/h in 11.5 seconds.

Things get very frugal on the diesel front, where a 1.1-litre three-cylinder turbocharged unit, good for 60kW and 162Nm, emits as little as 85g/km when combined with ISG technologies. Too weak for you? Well there's also a 1.4-litre four-pot diesel that's good for 66kW and 216Nm.

The optional ISG features that reduce consumption and emissions include an idle-stop system, advanced alternator control, upgraded starter motor and low-rolling resistance tyres.

The suspension system is based on that of the previous model, but fine-tuned to improve stability, ride quality and refinement, while the electric power steering system now features a combined torque/angle sensor to protect against side wind gusts.

It is geared to require 2.8 turns (lock-to-lock) and the steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach.

Taking care of the all-important safety aspect, the all-new body shell was created using a higher percentage of high-strength steel to bolster strength and rigidity. Given all that, Kia's engineers are confident that new Rio will achieve a 5-Star safety rating in EuroNCAP crash tests.

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