The Kia Rio supermini has been bit of a slow burn on the Irish market, but with a new generation of the car just landed here, it feels like a car that is finally coming into its own.

Style and sophistication were words missing from Kia for a long time but in recent years the Korean brand has been firing out some really good designs, and this new generation of the Kia Rio just builds on the previous generation’s compact silhouette.

This is a good-looking car in the metal, and the distinct tiger nose grille makes it look more mean than cute. Around the rear it looks sharper too and with the LED daytime running lights and alloys on LX and above, the Rio has a touch of class.

Inside, the latest generation interior stacks up well against the competition in terms of quality and it’s very easy to navigate, if not particularly exciting to look at.  The Rio range starts from €15,950 for an ‘L’ model with 1.25 litre petrol engine, but the EX model with same engine (€18,150) has a nice mix of equipment including 16″ alloys, electric heated, folding mirrors, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, cruise control and air con.

2017 Kia Rio review Ireland
The interior of the new Kia Rio

The EX ADAS adds more safety equipment: Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian recognition and lane departure warning,

There’s also a 1.4 litre diesel (77 or 90hp) priced from €17,750.

It’s fair to say that the Kia Rio is reasonably priced for a small car and it feels spacious enough inside too for this class of car. The new Kia Rio is a bit lower, wider and longer than the car it replaces , while the boot capacity is up by 37 litres to a very competitive 325 litres.

My test car was powered by the 1.25-litre petrol engine, which makes a lot of sense in a car like this. It’s nippy around town where you want it to be but out of town it’s not enthusiastic about picking up speed quickly. It does the job without getting too noisy in the cabin when revved and a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 100hp is to join the range soon. It should have a fair bit more oomph if you’re looking for perkier performance.

2017 Kia Rio review Ireland
The Kia Rio is available in Ireland from €15,950

Elsewhere, the Kia Rio is pleasant to drive with light steering and agile handling. To improve refinement, there are new soundproofing materials around the dashboard, and a stiffer front subframe minimises vibrations from poor road surfaces. There is lean in the corners and it’s not the sportiest of superminis, but it’s comfortable, refined and generally a pleasant little car to drive.

And that’s the Kia Rio in a nutshell. The Kia Rio is not the most fun to drive of its competitors but it’s maturing nicely with improvements to comfort and refinement. There is not much razzle dazzle to this car, but the Kia Rio will make a polite and discreet small car companion.

Model tested: Kia Rio 1.25 EX ADAS
€19,450 (Range starts at €15,950)
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
Torque: 122Nm
13 seconds
Top speed: 170km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

2017 Kia Rio review Ireland
The Kia Rio is discreet and pleasant to drive

If you are looking for a good value supermini, you might also like this review of the Honda Jazz.

Caroline Kidd