Last week I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the 2015 Kia Rio and ended up having a Friday better than most people I know. I met up with the KIA SA crew and a few other journos at Doppio Zero in Fourways for a morning cappuccino or two. Before heading inside I had a look at the revamped KIA Rio and while I’ve always liked this B-segment offering from the Korean brand, this latest version is a pretty damn good looking car – the right upgrades have been done in the right places.
KIA’s Rio is the brand’s top seller worldwide and it certainly makes sense seeing how many are on our roads. The total global sales for 2014 alone hit 471 000 units. With success like that, when it comes time to change things you have to make sure that you do things that will carry on that success and help attract even more buyers to the fold. For 2015, the KIA Rio has received visual upgrades only, and every single one of them has been a step forward. The Rio design team has updated the ‘tiger-nose grille’ and given the car a new front bumper with lower, larger air intakes and fog lights - and it looks brilliant. Oddly, while the exterior dimensions haven’t changed, this change manages to give the illusion of a wider, more squat stance. A meaner look if you will, and that’s not a bad thing in my books.
All the KIA Rios at the launch were reverse-parked so none of us (me) saw the new rear bumper. Here the fog lights have been changed from a horizontal shape to an ‘L’ shape, it’s a great new look. I saw the other journos walk behind the cars to take a look, and I even went behind my allocated Rio to put my camera bag in the boot, somehow looking at, but not seeing the changes. This meant I was the clever bugger who got lost when the KIA Rio convoy set off for River Place, our destination for lunch. During the driver’s briefing I quickly decided that I’d take up position at the rear of the convoy and so while our route was being explained, I didn’t listen too well. I mean, I was following a whole convoy of KIA Rios, it would be easy, right?
Wrong. The parking lot and traffic lights leaving Doppio Zero are a mess at best, and because I didn’t pay attention to the route and the rear of the car, I ended up turning the opposite way as the convoy by following a red KIA Rio – a 2013 model. After some stalker-like following of this poor blonde girl to a gas station across Sandton, I realised my mistake and had to make that embarrassing call to get info on our destination. I can happily attest to the fact that the KIA Rio is great at darting in and out of traffic as I found while playing catch-up, that 1400cc is pretty punchy and makes great use of the 6-speed ‘box.
The 1400cc Gamma engine performs great, it’s the same setup found in the older model as nothing has been touched with regards to the inner workings; the engine and gearbox setups remain the same. The KIA Rio (hatch & sedan) is available with a choice of two efficient petrol engines, coupled to either a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission (1.4 only). The entry model features KIA’s 1.2-litre Kappa engine (65kW at 6 000r/min with 120Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min) mated to a 5-speed manual transmission while the next level up features the 1.4 Gamma engine (79kW at 6 300r/min and peak torque of 135Nm at 4 200 r/min) that makes use of either the 6-speed manual or the aforementioned auto transmission. The 6-speed manual was smooth and has a sporty feel to it even though it’s not intended as a sports model.
Back to the car - there are three new wheel designs for the KIA Rio, the 17-inch ones on the range topper being the best of course, and they’re very different to those that they replace which is not a bad thing. The old ones had a GTi-look to them and I’m not a fan of the style. There’s also the addition of Urban Blue to the large colour line-up, so more choice for buyers.
The Kia Rio’s cockpit is a nice place to be with a layout and instrument cluster that has a look and feel of a car much higher up the spec ladder. The 2015 KIA Rio interior updates are limited to materials and trims, and so the four dashboard vents now have chrome accents and the redesigned centre console now features piano black trim that gives the desired effect of a stylish, premium look and feel. I’m a fan of the gauge sweep that happens when you turn the ignition on, I could watch it over and over.
Brains came into play again when I finally reached River Place. I was in the only KIA Rio in the parking lot and figured that I must have taken a more direct route to the venue and been the first to arrive, so I parked up and took the opportunity to snap some pics of the car. Only when I decided to pack it in and head off to the loo did I realise that I was the last there and I parked in the wrong section. Great impression from ‘that tattooed guy’!
The rest of the launch consisted of chatting about all sorts, from cars (duh!) to tattoos and everything in between. Of course, doing it all over a great Chicken Masala dish made it even better. It was a brilliant, relaxed launch for a brilliant car. A huge thanks to Christo for the hook up!
The turnaround time from the reveal of this new KIA Rio at the Paris Motor Show to having the cars on the showroom floors was pretty quick, because as of the beginning of February, the KIA Rio is in SA ready to be driven, and more importantly, sold. I reckon the 2015 KIA Rio looks to be yet another winner, set to scoop up a bunch of awards for the brand (the list of accolades since the launch of the Rio in 2011 is very impressive), it’s very a tough act to follow for its B-segment competitors. Also, with KIA’s competitive pricing and obvious value for money, along with it’s class-leading 5-year/150 000km warranty and 4-year/60 000km service plan I think prospective buyers won’t be easily swayed to look elsewhere.
Pricing for the hatch and sedan is as follows:
Rio 1.2 Manual R 176 995.00
Rio 1.4 Manual R 199 995.00
Rio 1.4 Auto R 211 995.00
Rio 1.4 TEC Manual R 212 995.00
Rio 1.4 TEC Auto R 224 995.00
An optional sunroof is available on the Rio 1.4 TEC for an additional R7 000.