Kia Rio SX Naza Kia is determined to make the Kia Rio among the country’s favorite compact cars. The good news is they are dead on when it comes to the opportunity and economies of scale; the Kia Rio’s 1.4-liter displacement and price tag make it very affordable for road tax and insurance, and for fuel efficiency and overall styling, the Kia Rio can rival some of the best B-segments out there.

If you’d notice, the Koreans are advancing swiftly in several industries. They have made significant progress, over the past few years, in terms of the electronics industry and entertainment (K-Pop, and gadgets, mobile phones, television sets and screens). The Korean people have ventured very far indeed and know no boundaries. And, they are about to take the world by storm in the Automotive industry too.

Kia Rio SX_3

The Kia Rio is an efficient-centric car that falls between the Continentals’ force induction vehicles, diesels and the Japanese-favored Hybrids. Obviously, everyone’s into reducing engine capacity these days, even Formula 1 is migrating from current V8 2.4-liter to V6 1.6-liter from 2014. The overall impression of the Kia Rio entails a compact car that has a reduced engine capacity, but a little shabby on the technical specifications which are related to performance and power delivery, particularly. The writer felt that Kia has taken an easy route to reduce engine capacity from the usual 1.5 or 1.6l to a 1.4l rather than look into the compact’s total development.

We have evaluated the economical, performance & handling, safety, comfort and reliability aspects of the Kia Rio.  Efficiency is the first of the order as we are sure that it’s one of the most important factors for B-segment buyers or first-time car owners.

Kia Rio SX_5

For starters, the Kia Rio is meant to be a city car and is evidently a stylish ride. The writer categorized it as a growing infant that’s always hungry. He found out that he had to frequently floor the accelerator hard in order to get the Kia Rio to move. From a stand still, the Kia Rio felt tired, and he had to pound the accelerator pedal a little bit more for it to roar back to life. At the end of the day, he noticed a higher consumption for the Kia Rio; more on this below. Therefore, the writer finds it hardly possible for the Kia Rio to hit 16.6 kilometer per liter as claimed by others, unless you didn’t mind getting honk at all the time.

The Kia Rio could be a little gas guzzler, and definitely not suitable for a driver who’s a tad bit aggressive. A bigger engine capacity would probably do better or perhaps a manual transmission, which would do some justice to the Kia Rio. One thing for sure, Asian Auto makers still do not want to shift to turbos or diesels, instead they harp on VVTs (Variable Valve Technology), four-speed torque converters and such. By the end of the 3-day evaluation, our Kia Rio unit had an average 11.36 km/l or 8.8l/100km. However, the fuel consumption factor has to relate to the driver’s preference.

That said, the Kia Rio is an effective vehicle for the easy going, moderate driver. It’s definitely well equipped with all the conveniences and amenities you’ll ever need, plus it’s exceptionally good to look at. At RM 80,000, you just couldn’t get a better package out there.

Kia Rio: Performance and Handling

Kia Rio SX_4

Our Kia Rio 1.4 SX came equipped with 205/45 R17, with the usual McPherson struts and torsion beam. The Kia Rio essentially handles well, though it needs a bit of push to get up to desired speeds. Performance isn’t everything about the Kia Rio due to two major reasons; one, a 4-speed automatic gearbox and two, some cost cutting measures here and there.

As for handling, the Kia Rio can squeeze in and out of traffic or tight spots pretty good and swirls around corners admirably. Our writer had no issues on fast turns, apart from a bit of under steer, which was easy to adjust. This might be due to the car’s extended tyres and firmer suspension settings. Nonetheless, it was sweet (according to the writer) during cornering on the Kia Rio, as did running by potholes and humps. Only in one incident that the writer confronted a ‘road hump’ incident; the Kia Rio hit the hump at 40km/h and the car felt like it had crashed into a man-hole. On a positive note, plenty of cars have had problems at this particular road hump in the Petaling Jaya vicinity.

Kia Rio: Safety

Kia Rio SX headlights, LEDs are intuitive

The car comes equipped with a pretty decent assortment of technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ECS), Electronic Distribution Force, the usual Anti-Lock Braking System, Traction Control System, Hill Assist System, and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). Apart from all the car’s computerized management systems, the Kia Rio comes standard with an additional 6 airbags (Front, Side & Curtain), with the compulsory pretension seat belts. There is also LED day light running light, LED rear combination lights, foglights and projector head lights. The Kia Rio’s headlights are pretty impressive, as they intuitively beam or follow as the car makes a turn. With these lights, the Kia Rio is pretty much a light house on wheels, and on-going cars should be able to spot the Rio easily. The Kia Rio is graced the Euro-NCAP 5-star recognition for apparent safety features inside and out. In addition, the front ventilated disc and rear disc brakes are standard equipment for effective stopping whenever it’s needed.

Kia Rio: Comfort

Kia Rio SX_2

The Kia Rio is reasonably comfortable, being able to absorb most portholes and road humps pretty decently. The Kia SX version is keyless, which is brilliant in terms of convenience. The key is to be placed in the pocket or in your girlfriend’s purse, however it’s needed when locking the car, unlocking and releasing the boot hatch.

The Kia Rio SX has exemplary comfort levels for a mid-range compact; adequate insulation for cabin quietness, a big glove compartment to store all your smaller items and owner’s manuals, sun roof, 60:40 rear-seat split, and good-sized buttons on the entertainment unit.

The writer discovered that the Kia Rio’s tilt, telescopic and leather-wrapped steering, though sturdy and got good grip, gave some numbness to his feeble fingers. Though, he quickly got acquainted with the steering switches for the Bluetooth connectivity, the audio volume, radio channels and MP3 tracks. The 6-speaker Arkamys audio system. despite its popularity, offers bearable sound quality inside the Kia Rio, but connects compatible devices quite easily and even switches between tracks and channels quickly.

Rear passengers should not have complains about leg or head room, as we had fitted two six-footers behind and received good remarks.

The Kia Rio SX has a automatic air-conditioning unit with Cluster Ionizer, while the EX is manually adjusted minus the Ionizer.

Kia Rio: Reliability and summary

Kia Rio dual a/c switchesKia Rio interior dash overview

The Kia Rio is deemed a reliable car for first time car buyers as Naza Kia’s 5-year warranty and easy-to-find, reasonable Kia parts bare the ownership testament. Also, Naza Kia has bettered its current after sales and service centers nationwide to serve Kia owners at a higher level. Additionally, more service centers and facilities are coming up in due time. One thing to bare in mind, the Rio’s resale or second-hand value could be less convincing than other B-segment brands in the country for the time being.

Kia Rio three-ring cluster Kia Rio 'keyless' Kia Rio 1.4l powerplant Kia Rio speedo

Competition in the country for B-segment cars is very competitive. The Rio overall is decent, but we have to ask ourselves is this the best we can get for RM 80,000. Could we fork out a bit more and get a better all rounded car. The answer is an absolute yes. But we forget that the Kia Rio does excel in terms of safety. The writer’s verdict: one of the Kia Rio’s unique selling points is the safety features; it isn’t an adequately-paced car and consumes more like an alcoholic rather than a fish. He believes that the Kia Rio’s price should negate all the negatives.