Mazda 2 Neo vs Kia Rio

27 March 2012

Mazda 2 Neo vs Kia Rio

Mazda 2 Neo and Kia Rio go head-to-head in this comparative review.

Value

Mazda 2 Neo

from $17,440

The most popular car in the light class outsells our COTY three-to-one. Solid and safe car even in base Neo form, it has features you once only got in family cars, among them cruise control and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Add Mazda's solid resale and it's a strong proposition.

Kia Rio

from $18,290

Korean cars are improving in perceived value on the used market. This one costs a bit more than the Mazda but has extras such as Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming. The lack of cruise control in this model is a sad omission.

Design

Mazda 2 Neo

It may look like a Manga character but it gets the heart rate going. Still, the interior is in need of an update; it's all a bit grey and old next to the newcomer. Seats are especially supportive and comfortable with cool cloth designs.

Kia Rio

This is the fresh face in this class and it looks more Euro than Korean. Bat-shaped grille and headlights give it an aggressive yet cheerful image. Interior is modern and airy. Rear passenger and cargo space are ample.

Technology

Mazda 2 Neo

The 1.5-litre engine is slightly bigger than the Rio's but has less power, not that anyone will notice. Torque is the same at 135Nm. The engine is married to a four-speed auto, which is quiet and smooth and gets the job done. Bluetooth is an option.

Kia Rio

The engine has a little more power to deal with its extra 100-odd kg. Still, the Kia Rio manages 0.5L/100km better economy. The four-speed auto is a competent transmission if a little slow to down-shift. The manual option has six speeds to the Mazda's five.

Safety

Mazda 2 Neo

The Neo gets four stars from ANCAP but airbags have since been added to match the five-star Maxx variant. Front discs and rear drums are backed by electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. The spare's a space-saver

Kia Rio

It gets the full five stars from ANCAP and adds hillstart assist and doors that automatically unlock in a crash. Importantly, there's a full-size spare tyre so you can travel out of the city with confidence

Driving

Mazda 2 Neo

There's a solid feel to this car even though it is lighter than the Rio. That comes through in low cabin noise, connected feeling in the steering and sensible road manners.

Kia Rio

Australian-tuned suspension works well on our pitted roads. It has a good ride while feeling taut and connected to the road. There's a bit of road noise, especially around the wing mirrors and in the back.

Verdict

Mazda 2 Neo

18/25

Better luck
next time :(

Kia Rio

18.5/25

Winner winner
chicken dinner!

We love the trusty little Mazda and consider it a safe and solid bet, but the brash newcomer is knocking loudly on the top-seller's door.

Written by

Mark Hinchliffe

Published 27 March 2012

Published In

Head to Head

We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.