Colin-on-Cars – Design and spec changes for Kia Rio

The latest upgrades to the Kia Rio mean it not only gains in specification and aesthetics but it now competes up the ladder of the competitive B-segment of the South African market.

“The Rio has been a popular and important model in the Kia line-up for nearly a decade,” says Gary Scott, CEO, Kia Motors South Africa. “With a refreshed design aesthetic and better infotainment and connectivity features, we have opted to build on the Rio’s key strengths and augment the inherent practicality and quality of the model. We are confident that the refreshed Kia Rio will exceed all expectations.”

Exterior design updates for Rio’s mid-life refresh have been kept to a minimum, with the bulk of the design enhancements concentrated at the front of the car. Rio retains its ‘tiger-nose’ grille, narrowed for a more focused appearance. The grille redesign is matched by a lower, wider front bumper and distinctive new fog lamp housing.

“Exterior updates may appear minimal, but in combination, Rio now has a smoother, yet more purposeful and sporty appearance,” comments Stephen Crosse, Sales Director, Kia Motors South Africa. “To showcase the refreshed design, two new colour choices are on offer: Perennial Grey metallic and Sporty Blue metallic.”

Intelligent design extends further than just aesthetics and includes the inherent safety design of its body shell, which comprises 51% Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) to give Rio the structural integrity required to keep occupants safe in case of an accident. AHSS is used to reinforce the A and B-pillars, side sills, the roof structure, engine bay and floor pan in order to also aid the more effective distribution of impact forces.

Inside, the main update is an upgrade of the colour touchscreen interface from 7-inches to 8-inches – which is now also standard across the Rio range.

Front passengers also benefit from the standard USB and auxiliary-in ports, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability – as much a convenience as a safety feature in the mobile-first reality. An additional 12V power socket is also available for additional charging devices. All models feature steering wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony.

Kia Motors South Africa has opted to retain the familiar powerplants that have done duty in the Rio since its launch in 2017. As such, Rio is still available with a choice between 1,25-litre and 1,4-litre MPI (multi-point injection) petrol engines.

The 1,25-litre engine produces peak power of 61 kW at 6 000 r/min and 120 Nm torque at 4 000 r/min. The 1,4-litre engine produces 73 kW at 6 300 r/min and 135 Nm torque at 4 200 r/min. Both engines apply power to the front wheels, either through a five-speed manual transmission (on the Rio 1.2), a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission (on the Rio 1,4-litre).

The refreshed Rio range also retains four specification grades. Along with driver’s and passenger’s crash bags (including side and curtain airbags in the TEC model), the Rio features front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, side door impact beams front and rear, child locks, and impact sensing door unlocking.

ISOFIX child seat anchors are standard across the range, as is anti-lock braking. Importantly, ESC  and HAC  is now available from the LX grade onwards.

As an entry point to the Rio range, Kia still offers the Rio 1.2 LS but, importantly, have added a 1,4-litre LS model to the range, in manual and automatic.

Standard specification on the LS grade includes air-conditioning (manual), power windows, electric side mirrors, central locking with an alarm and immobiliser, six speakers, steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls, rake and reach adjustable steering, and manual headlight adjustment.

Rio LS models now also gain 15-inch alloy wheels, replacing the previous model’s steel wheels with plastic wheel covers.

“While the Rio 1.2 LS was always envisioned as more of a corporate fleet offering, there has also been notable interest from private customers on the more affordable LS grade,” comments Crosse. “By adding the more powerful 1,4-litre powerplant, better infotainment and alloy wheels to this grade, private customers will benefit from much more value over the previous LS models, without having to pay a significant premium.”

Retaining all the specification on offer in the Rio LS, the Rio LX – which is only available with the 1,4-litre engine – gains front fog lights, a centre console armrest, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift lever and a new 4,2-inch LCD Supervision instrument cluster. Side mirrors now include an auto folding function with integrated indicators, while the vehicle’s lighting system gains automatic light control with an escort and Welcome Home function.

The Rio EX – also available only with the 1,4-litre engine – gets projection headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights and a rear park assistance system with integrated rearview camera (with dynamic guidelines) but is also visually updated by the standard inclusion of a 17-inch alloy wheel (upgraded from the previous model’s 15-inch wheel).

The Kia Rio TEC remains the halo model in the Rio range. Also available only with the 1,4-litre engine, it gains features over the EX model such as automatic air-conditioning, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, LED rear combination lamps, Cruise Control, an electro chromatic rear-view mirror, alloy pedals and leather upholstery.


Kia Rio 1.2 LS Manual           R280,995

Kia Rio 1.4 LS Manual           R291,995

Kia Rio 1.4 LS Auto                R308,995

Kia Rio 1.4 LX Manual           R306,995

Kia Rio 1.4 LX Auto               R323,995

Kia Rio 1.4 EX Manual           R319,995

Kia Rio 1.4 EX Auto               R336,995

Kia Rio 1.4 TEC Manual        R344,995

Kia Rio 1.4 TEC Auto             R361,995

All Kia models ship as standard with Kia’s Unlimited Kilometre/ 5-year warranty – inclusive of five years’ roadside assistance (also unlimited kilometres). The Rio 1.2 LS includes a 2-year/60 000 km Service Plan, while all 1,4-litre models includes a 4-year/60 000 km Service Plan.

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