Kia / Rio / SLi 5-dr hatch
DESPITE evoking a Mardi Gras anthem, cheapo underwear, a song by New Romantic outfit Duran Duran, and bargain-basement driveaway deals, Kia has retained the Rio name for its fifth-gen baby.
But out goes the Aldi packaging for some Audi-style couture that the company hopes will man up the Rio’s rubbish image, aided by a concerted localisation effort to bring the undercarriage up from dreary to dynamic.
We drive the SLi auto range-topper to see if it can cut it against the Fiesta, Polo, Mazda2 and co.
Model release date: August 2011
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A MASSIVE improvement over the flaky old 1986 Mazda 121-derived first-gen Rio sold in Australia for five years from 2000, the neatly styled five-door hatch and four-door sedan light-car range introduced Hyundai’s all-new MC light car platform to help Kia have a more competitive contender in a growing segment.
Initially just the sole EX model powered by an 85kW/145Nm 1.6-litre twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine in either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic guise was imported from Korea, until the flagship EX-L sedan and youth-focussed Sports hatch arrived a year later.
Early 2007 saw a 70kW/125Nm base LX join the series.
Kia facelifted the Rio for 2010, introducing a revised nose and a rationalised range consisting of the base S 1.4 and Si 1.6.
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Philips Motor Monthly
Your monthly motoring magazine; sometimes irreverent, always creative and not afraid to have a good time.