1 Jul 2000
By CHRIS HARRIS
REMEMBER the first Mazda 121 hatchback from the latter 1980s? To jog any memories try a stint in the 2000-2005 Kia Rio generation.
The BC Rio was a re-bodied Kia Avella, a car we know in Australia as the 1994-2000 WB-WF Ford Festiva.
Since Ford and Mazda owned a 16.9 per cent share of Kia Motors before Hyundai bailed it from debt-related oblivion in 1998, most of Kia’s cars were ex-Mazda cast-offs. And sure enough, the Avella was built in the 1986 121 platform, although it used many of the hard points of the famous 1990 121 Bubble.
With such a heritage the BC Rio might have been a pleasant little light car, except the heavy 21st Century body, combined with a low-cost focus build and engineering, made for a sub-standard light car.
A version of the 121 Bubble’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine – mated to a slick four-speed automatic or rubbery five-speed manual gearbox – provided 74kW of power and 135Nm of torque.
Air-conditioning was only standardised from September ’01, but most will have this, along with a driver’s side airbag, central locking, power steering and cloth trim.
Two modern and interesting looking (and long for their class) body sizes were offered – a five-door hatchback or a pert four-door sedan.
But there was nothing remotely contemporary about the way the BC Rio’s refinement, ride, dynamics or quality feel.