Kia Rio hatchback

£10,345 - £17,445

The Kia Rio is a spacious, comfortable, dependable and well equipped supermini that's available in three and five-door body styles. Its rivals include the upmarket VW Polo, good-looking Peugeot 208, roomy Hyundai i20 and that brilliant all-rounder, the Ford Fiesta. That's tough competition, but the Rio is no pushover, being a stylish and impressively complete package that's also cheap to run – all for a fair purchase price.

It's powered by a choice of small petrol and diesel engines. The most economical is the 1.1-litre CRDi, which in basic 1 trim without air-conditioning, can return almost 86mpg and attracts no road tax. It's available only as a five-door model. However, it's slow and noisy, so the more powerful 1.4-litre CRDi may be more to your liking, especially since it still manages 74mpg.

It's the same story with the petrol engines: the smaller 1.25-litre is the most economical (57mpg) but lacks the larger 1.4-litre's extra performance, which is especially welcome when overtaking and for relaxed motorway cruising.
However, both petrol engines are definitely livelier and quieter than their diesel counterparts.

Four adults can sit comfortably in the Rio's roomy cabin. The five-door costs around £500 more than the three-door, but its additional practicality and enhanced resale prospects on the used market are well worth the premium. Certainly, access to the rear seats, which are split-folding, is easier in the five-door.

Regardless of the body style chosen, passengers will enjoy good leg and shoulder room once they’re installed. The cabin trim feels reasonably upmarket and there are plenty of storage cubbies and pockets dotted about.

The Rio's quite firm suspension encourages you to push on through corners, but it's not uncomfortable. What can hold you back, however, is the steering, which feels light and imprecise.

The amount of standard equipment is impressive and includes body-coloured trim, DAB digital radio, steering wheel-mounted controls, front electric windows, a height-adjustable driver's seat and split-folding rear seats.

There are six trim levels, ranging from Rio 1 to Rio 4 (in between are Rio 1 Air and Rio SR7). Our pick is Rio 2 for its smart 16-inch alloy wheels, upmarket interior trim and air-conditioning.

The Rio was awarded the full five stars by crash-safety body, Euro NCAP. Equipment-wise, it wants for little, with all versions having anti-lock brakes with emergency braking assistance, electronic stability control, hill-hold control and multiple airbags.

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