KIA Motors South Africa today introduces a refreshed and revised KIA Rio range. Featuring enhancements to its exterior design and increased standard specification across the range, the refreshed KIA Rio also offers a notably improved value proposition. Originally launched on local shores in 2017, the updates to the Rio range repositions KIA’s evergreen hatchback in the highly competitive B-segment of the local 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.”

A clean and classy exterior

When launched in 2017, the new Rio was widely lauded for its distinctive styling and underlying sportiness, as defined by the straight lines and smooth surfacing from nose to tail. Within a year of launch, Rio received a GOOD DESIGN award (presented annually by the The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and run in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies).

Exterior design updates for Rio’s mid-life refresh has been kept to a minimum, with the bulk of the design enhancements concentrated at the front of the car. Rio retains its iconic ‘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, which 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.

A more intuitive, connected interior

Interior enhancements have been kept to the minimum, and the Rio’s user-friendly interior ergonomics remain in tact, making intuitive use of all major functions a cinch. 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.

Familiar powerplants

KIA Motors South Africa has opted to retain the familiar and popular 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 61kW at 6 000 rpm and 120Nm torque at 4,000 r/min. The 1.4-litre engine produces 73kW at 6 300 rpm and 135Nm torque at 4 200 rpm. Both engines apply power to the front wheels, either through a 5-speed manual transmission (on the Rio 1.2) or a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission (on the Rio 1.4-litre).

More features, more value

The refreshed Rio range also retains four specification grades. Along with driver’s and passenger’s airbags (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 System (ABS). Importantly, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) 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 is anything but “entry-level” following the range revision, and includes – amongst other items – air-conditioning (manual), electric windows, electric side mirrors, central locking with an alarm and immobiliser, six speakers (up from four speakers), steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls, rake and reach adjustable steering, and manual headlight adjustment.

In fact, the most notable revisions of the Rio range has occurred on the entry-level LS grade. Apart from the standard 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system that is now available across the range, 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 Stephen 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 – notably 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 – builds on the already extensive standard features of the LX model through the addition of projection headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, and a rear park assistance system with integrated rear view 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 familiar 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 Prices

1.2 LS manual – R280 995

1.4 LS manual – R291 995

1.4 LS auto – R308 995

1.4 LX manual – R306 995

1.4 LX auto – R323 995

1.4 EX manual – R319 995

1.4 EX auto – R336 995

1.4 TEC manual – R344 995

1.4 TEC auto – R361 995


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