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Kia Rio

JB Rio

Kia logo1 Aug 2005

By CHRIS HARRIS

Arguably the year’s most improved car, the JB Rio was co-developed with the all-new 2006 Hyundai MC Accent – so is generations ahead of its lame and very long-in-the-tooth BC Rio predecessor.

Despite being shorter, the JB is far more space efficient, and features two attractive bodies (four-door sedan and five-door hatchback) as well as a smart cabin that verges on being European-like in layout and design.

Thankfully though it’s underneath that the JB Rio has make most of its strides, with a much higher degree of body control than before the chassis seems much stronger and rigid and there’s significantly less noise, vibration and harshness coming into the cabin. It also feels like a tighter and much-better made car.

Performance is a strong suit too, thanks to a 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine nicked from the Accent and now the Getz.

Emitting 82kW of power at 6000rpm and 145Nm of torque from 4500rpm, it provides plenty of acceleration and a punchy overtaking attitude for a light-car contender.

But a rubbery five-speed manual gearshift (a four-speed auto is also available), quite leaden dynamics, a whiff of low quality construction and intrusive mechanical and road noise levels keep the Rio far from light-car class leadership.

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