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Kia Rio Si 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Alistair Kennedy road tests and reviews the Kia Rio Si with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Kia Rio is the smallest model in the Korean carmaker's Australian range and has been a steady seller over the years, especially following its 2011 styling transformation. The latest version was launched in 2012 and given regular updates, the most recent of which was in January 2015 with some minor styling changes, suspension tweaks and revised variant names.

if it ain't broke...

Design

Working on the "if it ain't broke..." philosophy, changes to the outward appearance of the new Rio are barely noticeable and it remains a neat and attractive little vehicle. For the record there are new bumpers, front and rear; new grille pattern; and metallic look headlamps.

2015 Kia Rio

Explore the 2015 Kia Rio range

Inside, the centre instrument fascia of the dashboard has been glossed up and the audio unit redesigned.

Australian Kias have previously been available in four-door sedan format but are now exclusively three or five-door hatchbacks, with no return of the four-door likely in the immediate future.

For a car of its size interior space in the Rio is quite impressive. Entry and exit into the front seats is relatively easy even for larger occupants, though there's a bit more bending required to access the rear seats.

Once inside there's good headroom and acceptable legroom albeit with a bit of co-operation needed between taller front and/or rear occupants. Lateral space in the rear is OK for two adults but not for a third. Three mid-sized children will just about fit.

Controls are large and well-positioned with three large dials directly in front of the driver displaying speed, revs and fuel status. The steering wheel has both telescopic and tilt adjustment as well as audio and cruise control buttons.

The boot isn't especially long but is deep enough for a couple of relatively large suitcases with a full-size spare wheel below the boot floor. There are small storage spaces on either side of the boot wall and a full-length cargo blind.

Engines / Transmissions

Two naturally-aspirated petrol engines are offered, a 1.4-litre petrol engine producing 79kW at 6300 rpm and 135Nm 4200 revs, and 1.6-litre petrol with 103kW at 6300 rpm and 167Nm at 4850 rpm

The 1.4 can be mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic, 1.6 gets a more modern six-speed auto.

Range

The Rio model range for 2015 has been changed with three equipment levels; S, S Premium and Si. The S is available with either three or five doors and gets the 1.4-litre engine. The S Premium also gets the smaller engine but is a five-door only as is the Si but with the extra power of the 1.6-litre unit.

The 1.4-litre models comes with 15-inch alloy wheels; the 1.6 uses 16-inchers.

The range will be topped up with two additional models, Sport and SLi, due to arrive here around May 2015.

Safety

Standard in all models are six airbags; ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist; hill start assist; high-mounted rear stop light; two IsoFix child seat sockets; and impact-sensing auto door unlocking. The S Premier and Si also get front foglamps.

Features

Information display is restricted to a small red and black screen on the centre of the dashboard that despite its size is easy to read and informative.

Bluetooth pairing is simple and logical, and unlike other cars where the USB and Auxiliary sockets are hidden away at the bottom of the centre storage bin they are prominent and easily accessible at the lower end of the dashboard. Directly below them is a small tray clearly designed to hold a modern smartphone thus eliminating the need for cables to be draped around the front console, potentially even snagging the gear lever.

An added feature with the audio system is speed dependent volume control which is standard in all models.

In the urban environment... Kia Rio is perfectly capable

Driving

Our test car was the 1.6-litre Rio Si automatic in a bad-boy Aurora Black that added an element of street cred that's likely to appeal particularly to young male buyers.

In the urban environment for which it's designed Kia Rio is perfectly capable. Even on the 50-kilometre motorway section of our test course it buzzed along nicely, although without the cruising finesse of a larger car.

Onto the rural backroads handling is well-controlled and sharp for a car in this class although the ride may be a tad on the firm side for those who prefer comfort over driving feel.

The suspension is well sorted and brakes are on the sharp side. Drivers of manual Rios with limited confidence will no doubt appreciate the hill hold feature.

Verdict

In a business that throws up names such as the "BMW X3 xDrive 35i Edition Exclusive" it's refreshing to be able to review a car with a name like Kia Rio Si which rolls easily off the tongue.

Kia's recent decision to extend its standard warranty to seven years and unlimited kilometres adds even more value to the already well-priced Rio.

Pricing guides

$11,498
Based on 149 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,990
Highest Price
$15,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
S 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $6,990 – 11,990 2015 Kia Rio 2015 S Pricing and Specs
S Premium 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $10,990 – 13,990 2015 Kia Rio 2015 S Premium Pricing and Specs
Si 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,888 – 15,990 2015 Kia Rio 2015 Si Pricing and Specs
SLi 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,000 – 13,530 2015 Kia Rio 2015 SLi Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7