The Koreans apparently want to make it really difficult for VW. At the same time as the refreshed Golf, Hyundai is sending the new i30 into the race and calling it the “new people's car”, that is, the new Volkswagen. And before the next Polo from Wolfsburg is released into the world in the course of the year, the Hyundai sister will lay down Kia with the Rio in the small car class. From February 11, the new generation will be in the showroom and beckons with prices starting at 11.690 euros and the well-known seven-year guarantee.
At least since the facelift almost two years ago, the Rio looks really good, and even today the older generation still looks modern. Nevertheless, the designers managed to prettify the new edition significantly. Thanks to the long and high bonnet, the Kia, which has only grown minimally to 4,07 meters, appears beefier. Clear, straight lines and the straightforward tail make it appear more confident and mature. In the spacious interior, the Korean presents itself tidier and higher quality than before and, more importantly, the chassis has grown up. Sometimes the predecessor hopped and rumbled in youthful recklessness over the asphalt, the new one is noticeably more balanced and comfortable. The same applies to the steering, which works more precisely than before; it is smooth enough in city traffic and direct enough in winding terrain to have fun.
However, all of this is also reflected in the prices: Although the basic version, which is still inexpensive, scores among other things with on-board computer, light sensor, stop-start system, radio with USB connection and multifunction steering wheel, the entry-level line is only for the 62 kW / 84 PS strong 1,2-liter suction gasoline engine available. The likewise free-breathing 1.4 with 73 kW / 99 PS starts at 15.090 euros, the new one-liter three-cylinder with turbocharging and optionally 74 kW / 100 PS or 88 kW / 120 PS even at 16.890 or 19.290 euros. The latter then drives with a whole range of special equipment such as emergency braking and lane departure warning, cruise control, automatic climate control, seat and steering wheel heating, rear parking sensors and reversing camera - but you are not far from the VW Polo in terms of price. If you want the easy-to-use navigation system (790 euros) with a 7-inch touchscreen on the center console, you have to use at least the two highest equipment. It is also only available for the limited special edition Dream-Team at the market launch.
After all, even the weakest engine can be combined with the best equipment in a different way than usual, and those who do not want top driving dynamics are well served. The four-cylinder can be kept in a good mood by means of a five-speed gearbox and the 4.000 Newton meters of torque applied during 122 tours are sufficient for city trips and smaller trips into the surrounding area. After all, only 1.100 kilograms have to be moved. With a maximum of 173 km / h, the base Rio can even be seen on the motorway, where it runs out of steam on slight inclines. Kia specifies the consumption of the vacuum cleaner as 4,8 liters.
The new, smooth-running three-cylinder is a bit more confident, but - atypical for a turbo engine - also craves for high engine speeds. The forced ventilation gives him 172 Newton meters at 1.500 rpm, but he only really gets going when the needle of the rev counter penetrates higher areas. In view of the joy of turning the little engine, this is not a problem, and the then robust sound makes you want to shift down a gear more often. The standard consumption of a good four and a half liters is then history.
The 100 hp version comes with a manual five-speed transmission, the 120 has Kia donated one more translation. There is also an automatic system, but only for the 99 PS petrol engine - and only with four gears, which makes consumption suddenly jump from 5,0 to 6,1 liters. For those who don't want a petrol engine, Kia also has a diesel with 1,4 liter displacement and 66 kW / 90 PS (in the Dream Team special model, provisionally also with 55 kW / 75 PS), which is available from the EU Consumption test runs a 3 before the comma, but with prices starting at 20.190 euros will probably not play a major role in the future. (Michael Gebhardt / SP-X)