By on February 11, 2011

Two years ago, when Kia Souls were just starting to arrive on dealer lots, the Peter Schreyer-styled mini-MPVs looked like “visitors from another planet” on lots filled with old-style Optimas, Spectras and Rios. Today, the Soul fits in fine with its newly-styling siblings… now it’s the old, dumpy Rio’s turn to feel out of place. Along with the frumpy Sedona, the littlest Kia reminds visitors to the Kia lot that once upon a time, not too long ago, Kia’s cars really were an automotive last resort. It’s not that these are fundamentally bad vehicles, but compared to the pop and sizzle offered by their new siblings, they simply aren’t trying to be more than basic transportation. But now, with a new global Rio set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show, even the littlest Kia is getting in on the family’s new flair for visual drama.

According to Kia’s presser:

The new model features a wheelbase extended by 70 mm (to 2,570 mm) and promises greater passenger space and comfort, together with increased cargo capacity to 292 litres for the hatchback. Exterior dimensions changes include: +55 mm (overall length), -15 mm (height) and +25 mm (overall width).

Inside, the new model will deliver a high level of quality previously associated with larger models – together with a wide selection of trim options.

Kia’s B-segment newcomer will be offered with an extensive range of fuel-efficient and low-CO2 petrol and diesel engines, depending on market – including a 1.1-litre diesel unit generating 70 ps, with CO2 emissions from as low as 85 g/km. An all-new, high-performance 1.2-litre Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) will also be available from 2012.

No word on US sales, but don’t expect a diesel here… the initial launch market is the UK. A three-door version will follow, providing the last stop before Kia’s A-Segment offering, the Picanto/Morning. Now, all Kia needs is that gullwing minivan it’s been promising as a replacement to the elderly Sedona and its transformation will be complete… at least until automotive design becomes so radical as to make Schreyer’s new look seem as dated and apathetic as the cars it replaced. If that’s even possible.

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23 Comments on “Kia Rio Gets The Family Makeover...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Wow, it’s almost… handsome.  Like a Fiesta with a chiseled face.

  • avatar

    Another fine design from Kia. I like it better than the Fiesta, a solid looking little car.

  • avatar

    That is a nice looking car.  I like it.  I would never have even considered a Rio5, but I would consider this one…

  • avatar

    These Kias keep making me question my Honda loyalty, increasingly better quality, fuel economy and dammit if that new grille doesn’t get me going every time I see it…

    • 0 avatar

      Trust me, once you are inside one of these, you will unlikely have any doubts in a Honda.

      As between them and Honda there is a (parent) Hyndai, which makes every effort to ensure a Kia appears and feels one rank lower than its own (Hyundai’s) products.
      Even though mechanically they seem to come up pretty robust, the touch and sniff perception is till lagging waaay behind. Good choice for a rental of a used buy if you need a cheap and no-frills transportation capsule.

    • 0 avatar

      If I wanted that I’d get a Versa.  Renault should get the Logan legalized and available over here to really take over the bottom end of the market.

    • 0 avatar

      Logan is a misery. Drove and was driven in one some time ago during a trip to home country. I would not mind them trying it with Lagunas and Meganes though. Still one would have to cope with the French engineering… ahem!.. Traditions, which  are something from a different planet and cannot be fathomed by yer average earthling.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s that damned je ne sais quoi, again.

    • 0 avatar


      Hyundai has no say about the interiors of Kias, much less the exterior design (otherwise, Kia wouldn’t be coming out with designs which are generally seen to be seen better than Hyundais; Kia design have won numerous design awards such as the Reddot and iF design awards).

      Case in point, while arguably, the Sonata has the better dash/center stack design than the Optima, the Optima has the higher quality materials (good enough for an upscale, tho not a luxury sedan – many have compared it to the interior of the Acura TSX).

      Also, the Kia Sorento’s interior quality is btwn that of the CR-V and Pilot, right where it should be.

  • avatar

    Toyota and Honda should be VERY nervous. Another great looking design from Kia/Hyundai.

  • avatar

    If one guy can turn around an entire car line this quickly and do such a good job, why on earth do Chevys look like they look?

    • 0 avatar

      Different culture and management system I guess.
      In GM it is probably all committees and war of egos.
      In Korea, if there is an approval from the very top (read – the top honcho accepted responsibility for a possible f**-up) for this “one foreigner” to do what he wants – everyone else just follows that order.

  • avatar

    Looks like the back end came from an Alfa designer.  I think Hyundai’s on a great track making their cars all rounded and swoopy while Kia makes ‘square’ looking vehicles to retain the less adventurous buying public.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s actually kind of funny because, while I prefer Kia’s designs over Hyundai’s, I also really like the ‘swoopy styling of the Juke, the EX35 and many other Nissan/Infiniti products. I guess I don’t understand what you mean by ‘adventurous.’

  • avatar

    Hmmm…I’ll get back to you on this one. The distinctive grille is ‘way too small, though, for starters, but at least it has some semblance of style.

  • avatar

    No door bumper strips? I had a car without once, and the doors on both sides attracted a mass of dings.

    Nice styling job on the sides and back. The front seems odd to my eye, though… it looks like those three big open areas low down are forcing the grille and headlights back up onto where the hood should be. It seems unbalanced, as though those six areas were taken off a mid-sized, techno-obsessed SUV and stuffed into the front of this small car.

    That said, I’ll withhold forming an opinion until I see one on the street. If I find it tolerable, I hope that isn’t merely because so many other vehicles are now tasteless jumbles of creases, bulges, weird lights, and odd proportions.

  • avatar

    No mention of the sedan…is it going away?

    • 0 avatar

      It needs to.
      This looks nice, and oddly natural, as a hatch. Kia has really stepped up its design game. This is a far cry from the Kia that styled my wife’s former 2002 Spectra sedan.

  • avatar

    They stole the GTI’s taillights.

  • avatar

    Feel good peasant’s plow likely to be more reliable than anything from europa.

  • avatar

    overall it’s quite decent, even the silly side scallop
    looks a bit vw polo-ish
    however the nose and light treatment is way too ornate especially for the price class
    simplify simplify simplify

  • avatar

    A good turbo will place the price of this at the same level as a Honda Fit (with a non-turbo engine).

    That means one of two things:

    1. The turbo will be junk and burn out frequently.

    2. Everyone other than the ‘gotta get the latest’ crowd will run to the Fit (if they have any bit of common sense.)

    For the record, I own a Yaris. AKA the piece o’ junk.

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