Kia Rio hatchback (2005-2011)

"The Kia Rio is not the newest or most desirable car in Kia's fast expanding line up, but competitively priced, robustly built and cheap to run."

Carbuyer Rating

2.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.7 out of 5

Read owner reviews


  • Cheap to buy, economical diesel engines
  • Comfortable and quiet at cruising speed
  • Impressive build quality


  • Low resale values
  • Soft brake pedal, limited steering feel
  • Dull looks

Launched in 2005, and facelifted in 2010, the Kia Rio marked a step change in the desirability of Kia's cars. Sharing some of its parts with the Hyundai Accent, it offers a spacious interior, plus a range of economical petrol and diesel engines. The car is well equipped, and competitively priced. An all new version of the car is under development - and is expected to be launched in the UK 2012.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Diesel engines return over 60mpg

If you want to keep running costs rock bottom, then plump for a 1.5-litre diesel engined car. Entry level models cost less than £10,000, yet will still return over 60mpg. Insurance costs are low, and while resale values are not particularly high, as the car does not cost much to buy in the first place, your losses over three years are limited.

Engines, drive & performance

Good around town, and a competent cruiser too

The Kia Rio's comfortable ride and torquey engine make the car a reasonable performer around town. The soft suspension has no problem absorbing big pot holes and speed bumps. These characteristics also help make the car a reasonable motorway cruiser too, but on winding back roads, the car quickly feels out of its depth. The steering lacks accuracy and the brakes feel soft and spongey.

Interior & comfort

Quiet at speed, but diesel engines are noisy

The Kia Rio's cabin is surprisingly quiet at motorway cruising speed. The narrow tyres and soft suspension insulate the cabin from roadnoise very effectively. At lower speeds, diesel engines sound noisier. At least there's lots of room for front and rear seat passengers. Despite rivalling cars like the Ford Fiesta on cost, there is lots of head and leg room available.

Practicality & boot space

Hatchback boot is a reasonable size compared to rivals

Kia's Rio is officially a supermini, meaning it competes with cars like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2. Against these models its hatchback boot looks spacious. Split and fold rear seats help improve versatility.

Reliability & safety

Though build quality is good, cabin quality could be better

There's no doubt that the Kia Rio is well built, however, build quality could be far better. What's more entry level models offer only modest safety kit. Traction control and stability control are not available.

Price, value for money & options

Prices are competitive against rivals

Head for a big brand rival like the Ford Fiesta, and you'll find a comparatively equipped Kia Rio looks like great value for money. However, while standard equipment levels look comparable, the Kia remains a comparatively dated offering in the fast developing supermini class.

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