Kia Rio hatchback

Price  £9,995 - £16,595

Kia Rio hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Well equipped
  • Improvement in quality
  • Attractive styling
  • Slow 1.2-litre petrol engine
  • Unresponsive steering
  • Eco-friendly tyres reduce comfort

At a glance

The greenest
1.1 CRDI 1 EcoDynamics 5dr £11,895
The cheapest
1.25 1 3dr £9,995
The fastest
1.4 2 ISG 5dr £13,295
Top of the range
1.4 CRDI 4 EcoDynamics 5dr £16,595

"The Kia Rio is a cheap and green supermini rival for the Ford Fiesta. It has the best warranty in its class and is quiet on the motorway."

The Kia Rio is one of the best-looking cars the brand has ever made, which is a good thing because it is a direct rival to the classy-looking Ford Fiesta. The Kia Rio offers class-leading economy, but is also fun to drive, and comfortable to travel in.

There is a decent amount of space for adults, even in the back, and the Kia gets good levels of equipment for the price. The Kia Rio also comes with the manufacturer's excellent seven-year/100,000 mile warranty, which should prove attractive to anyone looking for worry-free motoring.

Find out what we think is the best small car by watching our video below.


MPG, running costs & CO2

4.7 / 5

The diesel model is one of the cleanest non-electric cars in the UK

Almost all Kia Rios will prove to be very cheap to run. The least economical version is the 1.4-litre petrol automatic, which manages just 44.1mpg. The 1.25-litre petrol is much better with 56.5mpg possible, while the manual 1.4-litre petrol returns 53.3mpg.

The diesels are even more frugal, though. The 1.1-litre is capable of anything from 74.3mpg to a giddy 88.3mpg, while the 1.4-litre diesel offers more pace, yet still returns 70.6mpg.

Emissions are also low, with every 1.1-litre diesel qualifying for free road tax. The least economical 1.4-litre petrol auto will cost £140 annually, which is a bit steep but no worse than its rivals. The other petrol engines CO2 emissions range from 114g/km to 124g/km, meaning road tax will cost from £30 to £105, annually. Road tax for the 1.4-litre diesel will be £20 per year.

Interior & comfort

2.7 / 5

There is a decent amount of space inside for adults

Surprisingly, given its size, the Kia makes for an accomplished motorway cruiser, doing an excellent job of suppressing road and wind noise.

However, the suspension is quite stiff, which means the interior isn’t as comfortable on long journeys as it could be. All but the basic model gets air-con though, which means there’ll be no reason to overheat during the summer months.

The Rio's generous amounts of space mean that there should be plenty of room for four passengers. All Rios get a height adjustable driver's seat, so most people can get comfortable behind the wheel.

Practicality & boot space

3.0 / 5

The Kia Rio will be easy to live with and there's room for four inside

As a rival to the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the Kia Rio is quite small, but nonetheless there is plenty of space for two passengers in the rear, and the Rio also offers more headroom than any other car in its class.

At 288 litres, the boot is pretty decent, too, and all Rios come with split-folding rear seats that, when down, reveal a maximum load capacity of 923 litres. The Rio boasts a number of storage spaces dotted around its interior, with a handy cubbyhole located underneath the car's heater controls. Although the door bins are quite shallow, they still fly through the Carbuyer big-bottle test.

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

The seven-year warranty is a real bonus but reliability should be good

The Kia Rio has an industry-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, which means unrivalled peace of mind for potential owners. However, if the results of our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey are anything to go by, the warranty may well never be needed. Kia finished in seventh place in our survey, bettering premium manufacturers (such as Audi, BMW, and Porsche) in the process. The Kia Rio was too new to feature in our results, though.

The Rio scored highly in Euro NCAP's safety tests – being awarded five-stars. It comes equipped with driver, passenger and curtain airbags, as well as an electronic stability program (ESP), to prevent the car spinning out of control if it loses grip.

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

Undoubtedly better than its predecessor and particularly good on the motorway

The latest Kia Rio represented a huge improvement over the car it replaced when it comes to fun-handling, but it still falls behind the best-in-class Ford Fiesta.

The steering feels vague at times, which means it's hard to corner quickly with absolute confidence. Kia has also chosen to focus on economy rather than performance, so no models are particularly quick.

Slowest of all is the 1.1-litre diesel, which takes 15.5 seconds to complete the 0-60mph dash. The larger 1.4-litre diesel cuts that to 13.7 seconds, but the petrol engines provide the best performance – the 1.25-litre gets from 0-60mph in 12.6 seconds, while the 1.4-litre cuts that to 11.1 seconds.

Price, value for money & options

4.2 / 5

Considerably cheaper than mainstream rivals like the Ford Fiesta

The basic Kia actually costs a bit more than the Ford Fiesta, but it does come with decent levels of equipment. All models get electric front windows, headlamp levelling, and central locking. Move up a spec level and the Kia Rio 1 Air adds air-conditioning, while the Kia Rio VR7 mid-range model gets electric windows all-round, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob.

Jump to the top-spec Kia Rio 4 and you get lots of kit including a leather interior, keyless entry and engine start, an auto-demist function, heated seats and steering wheel, reversing sensors, and rain-sensing wipers.

While the Kia won’t hold its value as well as the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, its excellent warranty means you can keep it for longer without having to worry about big repair bills.

What the others say

3.7 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • 4.0 / 5

    "Since it was introduced back in 2011, it has helped Kia's march upmarket, too. It benefits from smart looks, roomy dimensions, a high-quality interior and an appealing engine range. Those after driver enjoyment should opt for the Ford Fiesta, however, as the Kia Rio engine range has been tuned for low fuel consumption, rather than strong performance."

  • 3.0 / 5

    "The Kia Rio is a decent supermini that has value on its side. Anyone looking for a car of this type should give it a look."

  • 4.0 / 5

    "The Rio 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics CO2 emissions levels have been pegged back to 85g/km for all trims, which gives user-choosers low payments as well as the kind of generous kit levels needed for drivers who spends a lot of time in their car."

Last updated 
21 Mar 2014

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Good review, I completely agree with all the points . Overall i thin is suited to a new driver rather than a seasoned driver, taking costs into account. If anyone has Kia Rio, could you share your opinion with me based on what you think about it?

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