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Kia Rio SLi vs Toyota Yaris YRX

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Kia Rio SLi and Toyota Yaris YRX go head to head in this comparative review.

4 stars

VALUE from $21,990

3.5 stars

VALUE from $21,390

The top-spec Rio gets 17-inch alloys wrapped in Continental rubber, six-way adjustable driver's seat, splitfold rear seats, daytime running lights, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, a full-size alloy spare wheel and much more.

The Yaris undercuts the Rio by a few hundred bucks but is not quite on par. Its engine is smaller for a start (1.5 v 1.6), its auto only a four-speed, its alloys 15-inchers. It gets satnav, auto climate control, 24 storage areas, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, power windows and a space-saver spare.


The SLi's 1.6-litre four-cylinder makes 103kW/167Nm but it's a lot more tractable than those high peak figures suggest, thanks to the excellent six-speed auto. Fuel consumption is a reasonable 6.1L/100km for the auto model, and 5.6L for the manual.

The Yaris is outgunned by the Rio, putting just 80kW/141Nm through the four-speed auto. This package is its achilles heel; it becomes quite coarse towards redline and the gearbox is clumsy as it stumbles around for the right cog. Fuel consumption, at 6.3L/100km is higher.

5 stars


3.5 starsDESIGN

Savour the work of ex-Audi head of design Peter Schreyer. At the wheel you get plenty of room and adjustment, and a well laid-out, easy-to-use dash in good quality, soft-touch plastics. Look inside an Audi A1 to compare. The boot holds 298L/923L.

Yaris is still a byword for space and practicality. Kind of.
There's now more rear seat legroom and even some more luggage space but it falls short of the Rio. Looks good in pictures but is a little dinky in the metal. Despite the satnav, it can't match the Rio's premium look and feel.
3 starsSAFETY 4 starsSAFETY

The Rio gets a five-star ANCAP rating and the usual safety gear: six airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control, a day-night rear view mirror, hill-start assist, child-proof rear door locks, crash-sensing auto unlock and more.

The Yaris earns its five-star ANCAP rating with all the usual active and passive systems. Standard are seven airbags, stability and traction control, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, anti-whiplash front seats, and speed and red light camera warnings.

4 starsDRIVING 3 starsDRIVING

Kia has hired some very smart European designers and engineers and has also been clever enough to tweak the ride and handling to deal with our rubbish roads. The ride matches that of a more expensive car. The steering and brakes are good, too.

As Kia did with the Rio, Toyota got Australian engineers to tweak the suspension and steering tune to better suit local conditions. However, the ride can be abrupt. The steering, also locally tuned, is well weighted and consistent. The brakes do a good job.
 4 stars 25
3.5 stars


The reigning COTY impresses with its class-leading design and refined ride and handling. It feels as if it could handle more oomph, always the mark of a quality machine. The Yaris is being left behind.



Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • Just bought my13 RIO SLI BLACK hatch for my missus…Style and Performance for perfect Valve:)

    Shane of Australia Posted on 29 September 2012 5:39am
  • to all rio drivers, have any of you noticed something askew in the suspension, especially the rear when cornering over shallow sharp potholes. Ours seems to slide. other than the paint being a bit thin, its a beautiful -  I mean gorgeous -  little black Rio SLI.

    Gary of sydney, AUS Posted on 23 August 2012 4:00pm
  • toyota,s are OVERRATED and OVERPRICED its good to see the little koreans kicking japanese backsides it.s been a long time coming keep up the good work kia

    david of toowoomba Posted on 18 August 2012 8:38pm
  • kia rio’s are going to have to be the best car around.

    gordan of pukekoe Posted on 06 June 2012 5:24pm
  • Great Article; about time people “Woke Up” that Toyota are not “the last word” in New Cars!! If it wasn’t for Toyota’s Fleet Deals and Cheap Finance, they would be getting belted in New Car Sales.

    Paul not a toyota fan of Perth W.A. Posted on 05 June 2012 6:27pm
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