Updates were the go with the Kia in 2019 and the Kia Rio Sport didn’t miss out. The Sport now replaces the now defunct mid-range Si and SLi, with the Rio Sport now the middle ground offering in between the Rio S and top-spec Rio GT-Line.
This mid-spec Sport model shares a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (74kW/144Nm) with the entry-level S. A six-speed manual is common, but the Sport adds two gears to its six-speed automatic.
When you think of the word sport, what comes to mind is action and excitement and something that gets the heart pumping. Now while the Rio Sport is powered by the 1.4-litre excitement is fast blood flow is not something you will get.
It is underpowered and lacks any real zero to go punch. It has a decent lag between hitting the go pedal and moving off the line and that there kills the buzz.
However when driving around the streets the performance was fit for purpose because what it lacks in power it almost makes up for in handling. It is nimble and has light steering yet you always feel in control. The breaking, while nothing special with them, seem to work very well in stopping the Sport, even from decent speeds.
Something else that is noticed rather quickly is the rather loud road noise. It is not good and Kia have let the Rio down here. It didn’t seem to matter the type of sealed driving surface, the noise was always there.
While there is no power and it hardly deserves the Sport name, in terms of ease of driving and overall ride comfort, the Kia Rio does not disappoint.
The Rio’s 45-litre fuel tank takes regular unleaded fuel and we recorded an average fuel consumption of 10.1L/100km… compared to the manufacturer’s urban claim of 7.8L/100km (6.0L combined).
When you start to take in all of the cabin, the front of cabin is a fairly plain affair with much plastic and minimal flair – but despite this it seems to work well.
The Kia Rio tackles in cabin storage and ergonomics very well. Kia takes a very practical approach to cabin design, where things place naturally – like the charge points being right above a good-sized oddment hole and dual coffee cup holders that can actually accommodate two cups at once.
The seats offer good adjustability (six-way) and the steering wheel is tilt and reach, giving drivers of all shapes and sizes the best chance at a good seating position.
Something that the Rio Sport doesn’t have is satellite navigation. However the addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility means that you can still get to where you are going and you never need to update the maps.
It may be a small car but when it is hot outside we all want the car to be nice and cold. The dropping of climate control for standard heating/cooling that doesn’t work so well, due to all the air coming from the front vents, was a little disappointing.
What is included is get cruise control, reversing camera, 7.0-inch infotainment screen and a six-speaker sound system incorporating Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming.
Few inclusions differentiate the mid-spec Rio: 17-inch wheels, electric heated folding mirrors, cruise control and a premium shift and steering wheel.
Car and Bike News Opinion
While the Kia Rio Sport looks the goods and has the normal 5-star safety rating that almost all Kia’s have, there is something missing. When you see the word sport the car really needs to live up to its name. This Rio does not.
In saying that it is a fun car to drive, downhill with a wind giving you a boost, has plenty of safety and standard features and would make for a good city car.
Price and Specs
Price: $18,990 drive-away
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 10.1L/100km (as tested)
CO2: (ADR Combined)
Safety rating: five-star ANCAP (2017)