Kia unveiled the fourth-generation Rio at the Paris motor show Thursday, hoping the new design will prompt more drivers to take notice of its subcompact. Or, at least ask: What is that?
The Rio flies under the radar. You probably wouldn’t notice one on the street, although there are plenty out there. Worldwide, Kia sold 473,000 of them last year.
From certain angles it could pass as an Audi or Volkswagen. Kia has a hall-of-fame designer in Peter Schreyer, and he’s earned his salary again here. The Rio’s wheelbase and overall length are increased, but the rear overhang is smaller and the roof is lower. Combined with the wider stance, it’s now a textbook example of good proportions. And there are LED lights now, too.
A bigger car means a bigger interior and Kia claims the new Rio has the most spacious cabin in its class. There are fewer buttons and clutter than before, replaced by a touchscreen mounted front and centre. It will have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, although those features will likely be optional extras. Autonomous emergency braking will be an optional feature as well.
In Europe, a range of engines are on offer with outputs ranging from a paltry 63 horsepower up to a still-meagre 118 hp. It will be fuel efficient, but it won’t win any races. As yet we don’t know which of these engines – if any – will make it to Canada.
The Rio will go on sale globally during the first quarter of 2017. For Canada, all we know is that it will be a 2018 model-year car. There is no official availability or pricing information yet, but expect the new Rio to be similar to the outgoing model, which started at $14,600.
1.5 stars (out of five)
Not on anyone’s list of dream cars, but the Rio has become a fine looking – and still affordable – machine.
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