New Kia Rio a hatchback contender
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Make way for the Kia Rio as it takes on other light cars
The Kia Rio is making a steady climb up the small car rankings, and is taking on the likes of Volkswagen's Polo.
Competing in the Light Car segment of the New Zealand new car industry, the Rio ranked number 10 in 2014, number nine in 2015 and jumped two spots to seventh position last year with its best tally of 550 sales.
With a new model -- the fourth generation -- launching in New Zealand and a sales target raised to 700 units a year, the Rio's emergence as a hatchback contender looks set to continue and will see it disputing sixth position with the Polo.
Offering key increases in dimensions, a small weight reduction and increased body rigidity along with an enhanced specification, the new YB generation Rio arrives with carryover pricing for the entry level LX and a $300 reduction on the EX.
The EX had been the highest specification but now holds a mid-grade position with the introduction of a more highly equipped Rio Limited model.
Pricing begins at $22,490 for the Rio LX with a six-speed manual gearbox and the four-speed auto model is priced at $23,490.
Kia says manual cars still account for almost 10 per cent of sales in this segment.
The EX grade automatic is $25,490 and the $1500 premium for Limited models completes the Rio range at $26,990 to give Kia a comprehensive line-up across the low-to-mid $20K price bracket.
The styling evolves the handsome lines of the previous Rio design with a slimmer and wider "Tiger Nose" grille treatment and a significantly slimmed down C-pillar which allows improved rear three-quarter visibility combined with a deeper rear screen.
The new Rio's exterior dimension increases have grown by 15mm in overall length, 10mm in the wheelbase and 5mm in body width while the height reduced by 5mm. With improved interior packaging that has translated to 25mm more front seat shoulder room and 31mm in the rear while legroom increases 8mm in the front and 4mm in the rear and the Rio ranks as one of the roomiest cars in this category.
Boot space has also increased - by 37 litres to 325 litres - and with the 60/40 split rear seat folded there is 980 litres of space with a further convenience benefit from a wider tailgate opening and lower loading height.
The bodyshell is constructed from an increased percentage of advanced high strength steel and press hardened steel to improve its torsional stiffness by about 30 per cent as well as achieving a 6kg weight reduction.
Attention to managing airflow around the wheels and beneath the car have smoothed the drag co-efficient from 0.33 to 0.316.
A visual change sees the Rio LX move back from 16-inch alloy wheels to a 15-inch size and a space saver has replaced the full-size spare. The EX is now on 16-inch alloys (previously 17-inch) and the new Limited has machine-finished 17-inch alloys.
Rio's standard specification has been boosted with a smartly integrated 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with reversing camera display plus multi-media playback with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functions on all models.
The LX models are equipped with manual air conditioning, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system, keyless remote entry, bulb-type daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, woven cloth seat trim and leather trim for the steering wheel and gearshift.
The standard safety package includes six airbags,the newly added reversing camera has guidelines on all models and Hill Start Assist is added as a new feature. Vehicle Stability Management, Corner Braking Control, Straight Line Stability Control and seat belt reminder are standard.
EuroNCAP and Australasian NCAP have yet to release a safety rating for the new Rio.
On EX models the equipment upgrades over the LX base model include 16-inch alloy wheels, projector head lights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, indicator repeaters in the door mirrors, rain sensor wipers, cornering lights, climate control with auto de-fog function, satellite navigation and an electro-chromatic mirror.
Limited grade moves up to the machine finish 17-inch alloy wheels and also gains rear privacy glass, alloy pedals and artificial leather seat trim that also extends onto the crash pad area.
The Rio is powered by Kia's 1.4-litre Kappa series engine with multi-point fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing.
It develops 74kW at 6000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 4000rpm while combined cycle fuel consumption for the LX manual is 5.6L/100km and the automatic variants are rated at 6.2L/100km.
The New Zealand market will receive the new Rio in the Australian specification rather than the Euro-spec that was the basis for the previous generation.
That means the indicators get switched across to the right-hand stalk and there is the suspension damper valving and electronic steering calibration which has been tuned by Kia Motors Australia engineers to sharpen the steering response and achieve an improved balance between ride comfort and suspension control.
First of three major new innovations
The Rio hatch is the first of three major new product introductions for Kia New Zealand this year.
It will be joined by the next-generation Picanto small car that is set to debut in this year's third quarter.
Kia's big move comes in the last quarter of the year with the new Stinger set to take the brand into a market segment it's never been before.
Revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, the boldly styled Stinger will offer 2.0-litre direct injection turbo -- the same engine just launched in the Optima GT sedan -- and 3.3-litre V6 twin turbo engine choices in combination with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive.
The V6 version will offer 272kW output and 510Nm of torque driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission and capable of 0-100km/h acceleration in 5.1secs.
Stinger has an eye-catching five-door GT fastback design and will take Kia into the rear-wheel-drive performance car segment around the same time as Holden VE Commodore production reaches the end of the road and the choice of large cars with rear wheel-drive reduces.
Stinger pricing has not been confirmed. Guesswork suggests something in the vicinity of $65,000 and $75,000 might be realistic for the two powertrain variants.