Friday, August 11, 2017

Bucket Seat: KIA Rio 1.4 TEC

I won't lie, I'm pretty lucky that I get to drive some amazing cars from top class manufacturers. More often than not, the cars I drive I can't really afford and its always those expensive ones that get you excited but there comes a time when I get a car, knowing that it's in my price range of what I could buy and it just blows my mind, the new KIA Rio did just that. The Korean car market has really come around in leaps and bound, not only proving to be a major competitor to the Japanese market but impacting the global market on a large scale. KIA is one of the manufacturers that has contributed to this success and when you look at their products, you can understand why. Not only are they making cars that can rival the opposition on pricing but also technology, style and quality. After driving the new Rio for 7 days, it was a bitter sweet moment giving it back as I really got attached to the car and this is how it went down. 


KIA Motors chief designer, Peter Schreyer who is also one of three presidents of the company has really set the right design language for the brand. While the previous generation Rio was pretty good, the new look is more Euro-centric, by means of clean lines, more square edges and trims but overall very professional looking. The ex Audi design chief has incorporated some of the styling from the German manufacturer in KIA's interior design but added it's own flair to it. The car has new LED headlamps which pronounce the cars front end as well as the LED rear lights add lovely detail to the back of the car. The 1.4 TEC model which I had came with a few extras that really enhanced the car, for starters it had 17" rims, glass sunroof and large touch screen infotainment screen which also had Apply Car Play and Google Android Auto but more about that later. The interior design is very sleek with some similarities to the previous model, many will recognize some of the switched and dials from the old Rio but it still looks great. 


The KIA Rio comes in two engine variants, a 1.2 and 1.4 both of which are available in manual or automatic transmission. Both engines are in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve Double OverHead Cam with CVVT which basically mean you have two separate camshafts, one for intake valves and one for exhaust valves. This coupled with the CVVT design reduces valvetrain inertia which leads to a more responsive output. Some figures from the engine is that  pushes out 74kW and has a Max Torque of 135Nm. For a hatch it size, it is adequate power but on lower gears I did find the engine to be a bit tame. It only really opens up between 4th and 6th. This goes to show with its 0-100km/h time, but one has to realise, while it does look rather smart, this isn't a hot hatch so if it's performance you're after, look elsewhere as this car does everything perfectly apart from that. Another major plus side to that is the economy, I swear I thought this was a diesel at the end of my 7 days, I couldn't fathom how a tiny car like this with me pushing the limits hardly drank fuel. I managed to rack up just over 600km's with it and it still had a range of 100km! remarkable. 


I spoke early about the Audi influence in KIA's design philosophy, while their are similarities I'm sure the brand would like to say they've created their own. The KIA Rio was extremely comfortable, the ride quality is unbelievably soft even with the large rims, For a hatch, I found that very surprising but pleasing at the same time. The car came with leather seats, which were pretty good quality as well. It wasn't that stiff leather that normally makes it hard to slide in and out. Space wise, even though it is a relatively small car, it was rather spacious, even for the rear passengers. The boot space was more than adequate for a smell weekend away. The climate control aircon ensured the cabin stayed at a comfortable temperature. 


As mentioned before in this post, the car came with built-in Apply Car Play and Google Android Auto. This is relatively new to South African motorists and for me, is the future of in car connectivity. When I say it's relatively new, while Apple Car Play is available for iPhone users, Google is yet to make Android Auto available for the local market, since I am an Android user, I found a loophole to get the app installed onto my device, it wasn't rocket science and in no time I was all set. No idea why but with these services, it requires your phone to be plugged into the USB port, even though the car has Bluetooth connectivity. With Android Auto, the infotainment screen came alive, first thing it does is disables your phones screen so everything you want is available on the cars display, from Maps, to contacts, calls and music! What's even better, Googles voice activated menu is active at all times so you don't have to fiddle around pressing buttons or selecting menus, you can control virtually everything by just talking to the car! It really is the future of in-car entertainment and information, I hope to see other manufacturers make use of this in the future. 


I get to drive some pretty cool cars, pretty expensive ones too but I didn't expect a car of this level to wow me as it did. Yes, it wasn't the fastest but in today's pace and roads cluttered with traffic, who has the time or space to go fast? The new Rio has everything you need in a car and with it being up to date with most of the tech which included reverse came and easy to use cellphone connectivity with Car Play and Android Auto, there isn't much one needs more in that space. The car is comfortable, a great city car and can be equally great for the open road. This honestly is the best car I've driven all year, it's price fits my pocket, it has everything I need and it looks great! 


 1.4 litre, 4 cylinder, DOHC CVVT
 Gear Box
 6 speed manual
 Top Speed
 13.2  seconds
 R 274,995*
*Excluding Extras

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