Kia Rio 1.4 Tec review

Kia Rio 1.4 Tec manual


This new “B” class car from Kia was a finalist for car of the year 2013. A Porsche beat it. It is so good, and so much of an improvement on its predecessor.

The Kia Rio 1.4Tec is a little luxury car, fitted as standard with all the goodies you could reasonably want with two omissions, more of later.

The 1.4 normally aspirated multipoint fuel injected petrol engine produces 79kW and torque of 135Nm at 4 200rpm to take you to a top speed of 183km/h and a 0 – 100 sprint in 13.35 seconds. Kia claims a very low consumption of 6.4 litres/100km. I managed to get 6.4litres/100km in combined town and highway driving. My usual route is about 100km a day and includes a stretch on the N2, town driving and parking on the 8th floor of a parking garage.


The interior of the Rio is superb. It comes with all the goodies you can expect as standard and all packaged in a great trim and finish. From leather multifunction steering wheel to climate controls, everything feels right.

This new Kia matches, or beats the  interiors of its direct competition.

Included in the package are luxury big car items like automatic lights, wipers, rear parking sensors electrically operated side mirrors and windows and awesome LED running lights.

The leg room at the back is good and the boot is generous.

The Rio is a great looking car in both hatch and saloon iterations. The nose is more than pretty.

Driving impressions

On the road the Kia feels competent. I would have preferred one size smaller wheels I think, to improve the comfort of the ride.

The steering which was iffy on previous Kias is much improved and is accurate. You do not notice it. That is a compliment.

Acceleration at the coast is better than brisk.

This new Kia is fun to drive. All the flaws in earlier Kia designs seems to have been fixed. Ride quality is not quite Ford Fiesta yet, but matches VW Polo I think and is better than Toyota’s Etude.

What I did not like

I thought the omission of cruise control and hill start assist is unfortunate. I would have preferred them to for instance, park sensors.

The bottom corners of the dash are quite high and could be a problem for a short person.


Possible competition includes the Suzuki Swift, VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and the Toyota Yaris.

Overall a very good package and hard to beat.

Price of the 1.4 Tec hatch as tested R177 995, which includes park sensors, auto lights and wipers, climate control and audio system.

Its automatic sibling is R187 995. The range starts at R144 995 for the 1.2 manual.

Includes 4 year 60 000km service plan and a 5 year 100 000km warranty.


Kia Rio 1.4 manual review

Kia Rio 1.4 manual

Kia are being very clever with their model line-up. They give you a complete car with all the necessary appliances, a choice of two trim levels , two engines sizes and either manual or automatic. Simple, effective. Just like their cars.

I tested the 1.4 manual Rio in basic trim priced at R157 995. You get a lot of car for your money.


She is beautiful. People take a second look. Kia have got it right with the Rio, whatever “it” means. The lines and dimensions are in balance and are pleasing to the eye.

Viewed head on, new Rio has its own unique interpretation of the Kia corporate grille, which is integrated with the front lights. It works well and is much prettier than the previous car. The new colours are also fresh and appealing. Fresh Beige  really suits this car.

In profile, the 5-door model’s shorter front overhang (reduced by 25 mm), lowered roofline and increased ratio of body-to-glass, combined with the car’s strong wedge form, gives new Rio a dynamic, sporty stance.

Alloy wheels are 15″ as standard but you can get 17″ wheels as an option.

She is an eye turner.


The new Rio’s cabin is more spacious than the previous model and also feels more spacious.

Storage space includes a large, 1.5-litre glove box, a larger centre console with 3-litres capacity and pockets to hold a 1.5-litre bottle in the front doors and a 0.5-litre bottle in the rear doors.

Features include items such as: steering wheel-mounted audio controls, radio CD player with MP3 compatibility plus AUX, iPod and USB connections and hands-free Bluetooth®. Feature highlights on the 1.4 TEC model are; climate-control air-conditioning, a rear park assist system with 4-sensors, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels (1.4 – optional/1.4 TEC – standard).

The leather steering wheel and leather gear knob feels good in the hand. The cabin looks smart.

Seat and steering adjust enough to find a comfortable driving position. The back seat spilts 40/60 and folds down.

The 1.2 Rio comes standard with 4 speakers, while the 1.4 and 1.4 TEC model is fitted with 6 speakers (4 door and 2 tweeter speakers).


The Rio handles much better than its Hyundai sibling. The brakes lack a bit of feeling, but the steering is very good, light but not dead. It goes where you point it. Handling is good. It feels sporty. With four adults on board you will have to use the gears, but if you are on your own it is a pleasing drive.

The manual gearbox is silky smooth and the clutch action just right.

Acceleration from 80 to 100km/h feels brisk and the Rio cruises with ease at 120km/h in sixth gear. It is an easy car to park.

Overall, a strong yes.


The interior is a bit plastic. You do get used to it though.

Not really a bad thing, but I missed the lack of park assist. On the other hand visibility is good.

Not a lot of power on hand when fully laden.


I really liked the automatic headlights. When you open the car with the remote the headlights come on if its dark. They also stay on for 30 seconds after you lock the car.

For a B-segment car there is a lot of space.

Build quality seems excellent.


Power 79 @ 6300, Torque 135 @ 4200. Consumption I got around 6.5 litres per 100km, combined city and highway. On the open road you should get very close to 6.3.

The Rio comes with a 5 year  or 100 000km warranty and 4 year 0r 60 000km service plan. The rust guarantee is only 3 years.


The new Rio is fun to drive, has the goodies you will want and seems to be well built. Highly recommended, but get a 1.4.


Prices start at R139 995 for the 1.2 manual. The 1.4 Tec Automatic costs R181 995. The car we tested was the 1.4 manual at R157 995.