From £9,445
Three-pot diesel Rio is the lowest producer of carbon dioxide this side of a zero emissions electric car

Our Verdict

The Kia Rio offers appealing style and tangible quality as well as typical Kia brand value

  • First Drive

    2015 Kia Rio 2 1.4 review

    Facelifted Kia supermini is wholly competent, but look elsewhere in this competitive class for a more inspiring drive
  • First Drive

    Kia Rio 1.1D 1

    Three-pot diesel Rio is the lowest producer of carbon dioxide this side of a zero emissions electric car
Richard Bremner Autocar
24 August 2011

What is it?

A car that can turn in Co2 emissions of 85g/km sounds like it must be a hybrid, and a pretty extreme one at that. But Kia’s new Rio Ecodynamics is simply a diesel supermini, and those emissions make it the lowest producer of carbon dioxide this side of a zero emissions electric car.

It’s propelled by a new three cylinder 1.1 litre twin cam, common rail diesel engine featuring a variable vane turbo and this, together with the usual carbon cutters of longer gearing, low rolling resistance tyres, a roof spoiler, a closed-off front grille and a stop-start system allow it to return a spectacular 88.3mpg on the official combined cycle.

That’s for the model without air conditioning – pay the extra £800, and the figures fall to a still outstanding 78.5mpg and 94g/km. A six-speed gearbox and a fat, 125lb ft torque curve that peaks at an early 1500rpm and remains sustained to 2750rpm also help the Rio go further on a gallon.

In other respects this ultimate Ecodynamics version is much the same as models in the rest of the new Rio range, which means that you get a car that’s among the biggest in its class, a roomy cabin being the result, fairly generous equipment that includes six airbags and ESP and a style that’s neatly contemporary, if short of the flair characterising the brand’s most recent models. You also get Kia’s desirable seven-year 100,000 mile warranty.

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What’s it like?

The 1.1 diesel is probably the most impressive engine in the new Rio range, and not merely because it delivers more performance than you’d expect from an engine of such unpromising capacity and diet. It immediately sounds little different with its three cylinder idle thrum, revs keenly and cleanly and best of all, delivers such a stout slug of acceleration that it leaves your doubts eddying in the dust. It sounds a bit hammer if you rev it hard, but for this there’s no need as its torque is strong enough even to pull sixth gear.

Consider that its 125lb ft of torque is substantially stronger than the 101lb ft of the 1.4 petrol, and you see why this engine is entirely convincing.

So, for the most part, is the rest of the Rio package, although it will not be worrying the class best in too many dynamic areas. Its ride is fairly level but noticeably upset by sharper bumps because it’s rather stiff-legged - although this smaller-wheeled Ecodynamics Rio is better - and its electric power steering, though providing decent weighting and resistance for this breed, will not be tempting you into dawn raids over hilly twists.

The Rio’s handling is equally unremarkable, although it scores points for the silky slickness of its six-speeder, and proves fairly quiet at speed, too.

Though a 0-62mph time of 14.9sec doesn’t sound great, the 1.1’s mid-range tug more than compensates.

Should I buy one?

If the promise of spectacular fuel consumption, strong value for money, a spacious cabin, modern, inoffensive styling and a seven year, 100,000 mile warranty attract you then yes, this is a car to be shortlisted at the very least.

But at this stage fuel consumption approaching 80mpg is only a promise, as the car makers find ever-craftier ways to turn in excellent official consumption and CO2 figures. That said, we’d be surprised if the Rio Ecodynamics doesn’t turn in some pretty heart-warming economy numbers, even if they rarely begin with an eight.

If you’re a keener driver, however, then Ford’s highly polished Fiesta makes the greater entertainer, and to many eyes will be the better looker of the pair, inside and out. But the Rio now sits in the front half of the supermini pack – unthinkable, not so many seasons ago – and if emissions and economy are paramount, this version of it is a winner.

Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi ‘1’ Ecodynamics

Price: £11,895; Top speed: 98mph; 0-62mph: 14.9sec; Economy: 88.3mpg; Co2: 85g/km; Kerb weight: 1155kg; Engine type, cc: 3 cyls, 1120cc, diesel; Power: 73bhp at 6300rpm; Torque: 125lb ft at 4200rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


24 August 2011

Every new Kia I see leaves me more impressed. To my eyes it's more interesting to look at than the equivalent Fiesta, and inside is far more mature than the Ford's over-excited interior.

Couple that with a 3-pot turbo and this sounds like the pick of the range. Intrigued to hear what a 3-pot diesel actually sounds like though...

24 August 2011

Sounds an impressive little engine. Those A-pillars look a bit thick and intrusive from the inside though. That might annoy me although most cars these days seem to have them.

With regards the air-con version being 10mpg less than the non air-con, presumably they'd be identical if the air-con was switched off? Or does having air-con affect MPG even when switched off? I'm not sure how the systems work to be honest.

24 August 2011

This is probably going to be my mothers next car. And I will be hoping to steal the keys from her when I need to do long trips! Even if it doesn't quite match the 80mpg that Kia claim, it's still going to be one of the most economical cars on sale.

24 August 2011

Great. As I am firmly agaist battery hen cars - this is nothing short of a hoot and five fingers at those electric rubbish pretenders. OK it isnt zero emmission but there again neither are 99& of the hybrids. What I would like to know is what exactly is the difference of performance figures putting normal rubber on this car. I think that the low rolling resistance ones are the culprits for poor ride conditions. AUTOCAR please find out this valuable information !!!

24 August 2011

The weight of the a/c unit would have some effect - but switched off I think you would only lose about 2mpg - if that

24 August 2011

Rio with a/c fitted and switched off would only have a weight penalty of the unit - which may cost as much as 2pmg - so really negligable.

24 August 2011

Koreans just get better and better but the best part is the looks of their recent models! They have just overtaken the Japanese by a mile and they really produce good looking cars.

But guys aren't you fed up reading about fiestas, focuses and mondeos in every other car review in the "Should I buy one" section of every review? I don't want to start the old Autocar - bias thing, I ve just had enough.

24 August 2011

Can't see anyone rational choosing a polo blue motion over this. To my eyes it looks great and is good value. Would like auto car to do a test of mpg over a tankful driven always under the speed limit on mainly non city streets as this is where good mpg is of benefit.

24 August 2011

[quote michael knight]Intrigued to hear what a 3-pot diesel actually sounds like though...[/quote]

The Daihatsu Charade 3 pot diesel used to sound fantastic.

24 August 2011

Philby, is it not possible, just slightly possible that actually the Fiesta (or Mondeo) is a really good car in the handling department, and that's why the mag often comments on it in the 'should I buy one' section?

It's not brand bias, just the fact they actually like them. If the Kia was best in class for handling it would be the other way around. Other mags I read say the same thing, so it's likely they just really rate the car, not because it's a Ford.

The test for the Rio was pretty positive so it's not like they've slated it. Just saying it's not as fun round the twisties as some, which frankly is an important piece of information for petrol heads.


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