All-New Kia Rio 1.4 Media Test Drive in Malaysia; Is This the New B-segment Leader?
With traffic congestion on the up, and fuel prices continuing to soar, the masses are on the prowl for cars that make driving easy, and save you a tonne of Ringgits in petrol.
Enter the all-new 2013 Kia Rio—the B-segment’s latest and hottest entry. But does it live up to the ‘Riolution’ hype?
The all-new Kia Rio is powered by the 1.4 litre MPI Gamma engine, which puts out 109ps at 6300 rpm and 137Nm at 4300 rpm, with the help of a DOHC and CVVT. It’s mated with a four-speed automatic gearbox, with manual shift function.
Prices for the Kia Rio start from RM73,888 for the EX variant, and RM79,888 for the SX.
Kia organised a preview drive for the Rio, from downtown Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Palm Tree Resort in Sepang, and back. The route consisted of rush hour KL traffic, some B-roads and also long stretches of highway. We got to the test both the SX and EX versions, to see how they’d cope with the difficulties. Here’s our findings:
The Kia Rio is not much different from its competitors. It’s easy to drive, quiet and comfortable; all that a good city car should be.
Thanks to the electric motor assisted steering system, steering is very light at low speeds, which really helps when parking and moving through jammed city traffic. At high speeds, the steering is nicely weighted to give some feedback of what’s happening.
The suspension setup was a bit on the soft side, but was mostly evident when making turns a little over the legal speed limit.
The SX felt more confident in the corners, as it was equipped with 205/45 series Conti Sport Contact 5 tyres on 17-inch alloy wheels, while the EX was on 195/55 Kumho rubber on 16-inch wheels.
Power wise, the 1.4 mill lacks a bit, especially when there is need to overtake on highways. The Kia Rio does however get a good 16.6km per litre.
Disc brakes on all four corners gave good bite and the pedal feel was firm. Also there to make life easier were the Hill-start assist feature, ABS, traction control and stability management system; all of which come as standard.
Size wise the all new Kia Rio has grown 20mm in length, over the predecessor measuring in at 4045mm long. It has a wheelbase of 2570mm, an increase of 70mm, and width is up by 25 mm, at 1720 mm compared to the previous generation. Compared to the older car, the new Rio has a reduction of 15 mm, at 1470mm in height.
It looks nothing like the Kia Rio’s predecessor. With a few design awards under its belt, the hatchback is a very smart and flashy looking car, with a few features that are distinctly Kia, like the ‘tiger nose’ front grill.
The styling cues should appeal to Kia’s target customers for the Rio; individuals under 35 years old.
The new Suzuki Swift and Ford Fiesta provide some competition for this beauty, but the Kia Rio is somewhat ahead we think; very attractive, especially in the Electronic Blue colour – special to the SX version only.
The interior as a whole had a very premium feel. Although the plastic dashboard is not the best to touch and feel, but it is classy. The gear shifter, dash buttons and steering wheel is well done, adding to the sense of premium quality.
The seats are comfortable for long distance driving. The rear leg room and headroom are quite good, and can easily accommodate three people at the back. The 60:40 split folding rear seats help in increasing the cargo capacity when needed.
The Kia Rio comes with six airbags, ISOFIX mounts and tilt/telescopic steering as standard for both variants.
The sound system is sorted out by Akarmy’s tuned six-speaker sound system with MP3 and AUX inputs. There is also Bluetooth connectivity and audio control buttons on the steering wheel; all as standard equipment, and all very useful in reducing our stress levels during the trip.
Also important to note, was that there was hardly any wind noise or vibrations; even at high speeds.
Overall the 2013 Kia Rio is a well-built car in terms of design and also its build quality. Driving it for a few hours made me love this car, as it was a very good all rounder and comes with long list of equipment. Since it is priced very competitively in the B-segment market, it won’t be long before we start seeing quite a few of these on the road.