Kia Rio hatchback

£10,345 - £17,445

The Kia Rio is an attractive, spacious and well made small car that's a convincing alternative to established rivals including the class-leading Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio. It's very economical and its light controls mean it's easy and relaxing to drive around town. It cruises comfortably on motorways and main roads, too, but push a little harder and its vague steering begins to spoil the experience. The Ford Fiesta is a much more entertaining car to drive.

There are three and five-door versions. Those extra doors add around £500 to the Rio's price, but in addition to making the model more practical, they make it more desirable as a second-hand car. Power comes from a choice of petrol and diesel engines.

The 1.1-litre CRDi is the most economical. It returns an astonishing 88.3mpg and produces CO2 emissions of just 85g/km, meaning there's no road tax to pay. However, the petrol engines are also quite frugal – the 1.25-litre achieving an impressive 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

A choice of six trim levels brings rising amounts of kit. Fortunately, the Rio is quite well equipped as standard, with electronic stability control, multiple airbags, steering wheel-mounted controls and a split-folding rear seat. Top-specification versions have black leather trim, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights.

The Rio feels much more grown-up and refined than its predecessor. The cabin has plenty of soft-touch plastics, smart finishes and tough trim. Underway, it's reasonably quiet, with road and wind noise being fairly well suppressed. Four adults will be genuinely comfortable in the Rio's spacious interior. Legroom in the rear is especially impressive, and there's enough shoulder room for it not feel too intimate. There's ample storage space, too, particularly in the glovebox, which could take a large hat and scarf with room to spare.

Kia has sufficient confidence in the quality of its cars to offer a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. That should reassure private buyers intending to keep their cars for several years that there won't be any unexpected repair bills.

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