Kia will launch its new Rio here in mid-October with a choice of two trims levels and two engines. After driving Kia's all-new, fourth-generation Rio at the pan-European launch, our motoring correspondent Padraic Deane was impressed.
I must admit that of the three cars currently offered by Kia in the big selling B-segment (it also offers the Venga and Soul ), the current Rio registered the least on my radar.
However that has changed because I really like the new Rio. It has a bold and distinctive design that makes it stand out in the nicest possible way. It is a revolution, not an evolution from its predecessor.
The new model is longer, wider, and lower, and features a wheelbase extended by 70mm – greatly enhancing passenger space and cargo capacity. With an overall height of 1,455mm, the new Rio has one of the lowest roof-lines in Kia’s European product range, emphasising its purposeful stance.
Marketed for the first time in Europe with a choice of five and three-door bodystyles, the new Rio is set to completely redefine its position in one of the most competitive sectors.
And it has to be very good if it is to make a positive impact in the toughest segment in the European car market. There are currently an amazing 45 different models sold to European car buyers. I believe the new Rio will do very well in this crowded market. In Ireland, Kia expects to sell 1,000 new Rio models in 2012.
With two bodystyles for Rio, plus the already-popular Soul and Venga B-segment models, Kia is confident of capturing an even larger share of the increasingly popular compact car market.
Kia’s market research predicts that global demand for B-segment cars is going to grow significantly over the next two years as consumers increasingly shift to more economical, more fuel-efficient cars – downsizing to offset the continuous rise in fuel prices. Analysts forecast that global demand for B-segment cars will climb to 9.2 million units in 2012 and to 14.0 million units by 2014.
In addition to appealing to consumers’ aesthetic tastes, the new Kia Rio will lead the company’s efforts to significantly grow its market share across the world by offering industry-leading environmental improvements and low running costs.
The engine choice in Ireland will be a 1.25 petrol engine (83bhp, and CO2 of 114g/km. ) and the 1.4 diesel (89bhp, and CO2 of 109g/km. ). Standard transmission for the 1.4 diesel version will be a six-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.25-litre petrol engined version has a five-speed box.
Both engines are A rated for tax and Kia Motor Ireland predicts the petrol powered units will comprise between 60 and 70 per cent of their sales. This is because it will sell for less than the diesel version and similar lower annual road tax rates.
There was a lot of talk at the European press launch about the new Rio EcoDynamics model, powered by the 1.1-litre diesel engine and equipped with ISG. However, we will not be seeing it in Ireland in the short-term.
It features various additional emissions-reducing measures including a drag-reducing front grille and rear spoiler, low-rolling resistance tyres and a ‘shift-up’ gear indicator to encourage an economical driving style.
Interestingly, to reduce weight, some equipment items featured on higher-spec models, such as the rear window wash/wiper system and rear audio speakers, are deleted. Consequently, kerb weight is cut by 36kg to 1,080kg and emissions are lowered to a 85g/km (best B-segment rating of any car on sale in Europe ), while fuel consumption is improved to 3.2 litres per 100 km (or 88mpg ).
To reduce fuel consumption on all new Rio versions and help achieve class-leading emissions, Kia engineers have carried out an extensive programme to shed weight across a broad range of components.
As a result, the new Rio is no heavier than the car it replaces – even though it is a significantly larger car than the third-generation model with extra equipment and offers additional options and features.
The five-door version will be the first variant to go on sale in October, with the new three-door model joining Kia’s line-up in the first quarter of 2012. Both versions will be manufactured exclusively in Korea.
The new Rio, with its greater emphasis on style and quality, an emphatic lead in fuel economy and emissions, and wider range of equipment, is set to fulfill Kia's expectation that the new Rio will be a top-10 contender in the supermini market.