By: IOL Motoring Staff
Russelsheim, Germany / Paris, France - The fourth-generation Kia Rio hatch, which will premier at the Paris motor show, just weeks away, has big tyre-tracks to fill; the current Rio is the company's biggest selling model, to the tune of 473 000 globally in 2015.
But the new Rio is very much its own car, with a longer nose - both the bonnet and the front overhang have grown and the signature 'tiger nose' grille is lower and wider - while the rear overhang is shorter and the tailgate is more upright, on a narrower C pillar.
The 'lower and wider' aesthetic has been applied to the interior as well, with long straight lines, - and black trim elements - across the full width of the fascia, emphasised by horizontal, in place of vertical, air-vents.
The dashboard is now angled towards the driver, and the centre stack now has a 'floating' infotainment panel with a high-resolution touchscreen, while the switchboard below it has fewer controls, with user-friendly concave switches and rotary controls for heating and ventilation.
Convenience features, depending on the model, include keyless entry and start, heated seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights, cruise control and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera.
Standard issue is a 125mm display for the six-speaker audio system, optional is a 180mm touchscreen infotainment and navigation system by TomTom, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with full Siri voice control. There's also a second USB port in the rear - another first for the segment, says Kia - so rear-seat occupants can also access the car's entertainment system and/or charge their devices on the move.
Boot size has grown 37 litres to 325 litres, despite the rear overhang being 15mm shorter, by putting a split-level double floor in the boot so you can expand downwards if necessary. This feature, however, rules out a spare wheel, and it may not be offered in South Africa for that reason.
The new Rio will be offered in Europe with a range of petrol and diesel engines, starting with a one-litre direct-injection turbopetrol three, first seen in the 2015 Cee'd and now also in the Hyundai 120, that will be available in two states of tune.
Each is rated for 172Nm from 1500-4000rpm, with the milder mapping good for 73kW at 4500 revs while the full-cream flavour claims 88kW at 6000rpm.
Also in the Eurozone line-up will be the proven, naturally aspirated 1.2 and 1.4-litre fours; the 1248cc mill is rated in this application for 62kW at 6000 revs and 122Nm at 4000rpm, while the 1396cc version claims 73kW at 6000rpm and 132Nm at 4000rpm.
The 1.4-litre diesel will also be available in two flavours, a milder 51kW or a spicier 66kW, driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.4 petrol and the 87kW turbotriple also have six-speed manual 'boxes, while the 72kW one-litre and the 1.2 have to make do with only five forward ratios.
Optional safety kit
It'll cost extra, but the 2017 Rio will be the first B-segment car in Europe to offer autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition and lane departure warning, in addition to the standard-fit electronic stability programme.
The new Rio will be released in Europe in the first quarter of 2017, and can be expected in South Africa by mid-year; the local model line-up has yet to be finalised, however.
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