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Car reviews - Kia - Rio - sedan

Overview

Kia's facelifted Rio offers improved looks, better dynamics and a sharp price

4 Mar 2003

KIA admits that despite its bargain-basement $14,990 sticker price, the convincingly facelifted 2003 Rio will not be an easy sell. Available as either a five-door hatch or four-door sedan (tested here), the well-equipped, single-specification Rio LS undercuts its direct light car rivals by at least $1000. But it needs to because the volume-selling South Korean four/five-door must also compete with a host of Japanese three-door hatches, a bodystyle that's proved popular with young buyers and females, who represent the majority of the light car market. There is no doubt the latest Rio brings marked improvements in a number of key areas, such as styling, interior presentation, driving dynamics and refinement. But whether its larger size, greater practicality, impressive equipment level and rock-bottom price are enough to tempt more light car buyers away from the traditional Japanese three-door remains to be seen.

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Model release date: 1 January 2003 to 1 August 2005

Previous model

Kia Rio sedan

Released: July 2000
Ended: December 2002
Family Tree: Rio

AUSTRALIA'S first taste of the Kia Rio light came in July 2000 when both the four-door sedan and five-door hatch versions went on sale with a sticker price of $14,990. Later available with air-conditioning as standard and then at a driveaway price, the original Rio was discontinued in Decemeber 2002 to make way for the facelifted version tested here, circa January 2003.

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