The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line.

ROAD TEST: Review of the Kia Rio GT-Line with turbo engine

THIS is the car Kia should have launched when the Rio first landed two years ago.

Now king among the Rio clan is the GT-Line, which has a three-cylinder turbo beating within its compact dimensions. This is the engine it was showcased with at its Paris reveal in 2016, but international pressures and right-hand drive availability has only just seen its arrival.

Priced at $21,990 drive-away, that makes it a $4400 leap from the base model S.

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line. Warren Kirby

VALUE

Ample bang for buck is offered, with a colour seven-inch touchscreen, six-speaker stereo with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, carbon fibre-look dash, along with sports pedals and steering wheel. Externally the hatch exudes European influence, accentuated by a body kit, twin exhaust and 17-inch alloys. It only has manual aircon, and the GT-Line doesn't have as many colour choices as other models - only available in white, silver, black, red and yellow (blue and graphite are not included).

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line. Warren Kirby

SAFETY

Base model Rios come with six airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, but the GT-Line gains autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors and driver attention alert. Despite the tech, no radar cruise control.

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line. Warren Kirby

COMFORT

Gaining 5mm in length is purely in the body kit, and the Rio remains a compact runabout. Rear legroom is dependent on the generosity of those seated up front, but four adults can be carried without too much compromise. Operationally everything is straight forward, including just a single dial for the aircon, while the touchscreen is easy to navigate and made easier by using the smartphone mirroring applications. There are dual cup holders in the console and the doors can also handle bottles, while there is a USB port in the front and another in the rear.

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line. Warren Kirby

DRIVING

While small, the little triple has some oomph. From standstill it's happy to rev and get away from the lights with vigour. Generating 88kW and 172Nm, that's an extra 14kW and 39Nm over the standard petrol, it feels perky and more responsive. Sitting on about 2300rpm at 110km/h, it doesn't feel like a micro machine on the highway. With bigger front brakes than its siblings the GT-Line feels more dynamic than other Rios - which have been improved recently with a more modern six-speed auto replacing the ageing four-ratio unit. During our tenure it returned fuel consumption of 6.7 litres for every 100km. The boot space is surprisingly good for its size.

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line.

ALTERNATIVES

SUZUKI SWIFT GLX TURBO $22,990 D/A

An adept performer, this derivative is powered by a 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre turbo 3-cyl. Fun city car with impressive dynamics and a solid specification list. The three-year warranty is extended to five years with dealer servicing.

VW POLO COMFORTLINE $23,990 D/A

The benchmark of the tidler class, this derivative also runs a 1.0-litre turbo 3cyl generating 85kW/200Nm with a 7sp dual clutch auto. Doesn't have the sporty good looks of the Kia, but it's a better drive and comes with an eight-inch infotainmment system. Falls short on warranty, but it is five years and unlimited kilometres.

SKODA FABIA $19,990 D/A

An underrated offering, it uses superseded VW Polo architecture and 81kW/200Nm 1.0-litre turbo 3-cyl/seven-speed auto. Smart packaging like all Skodas, and responsive performer.

The Kia Rio GT-Line.
The Kia Rio GT-Line.

VERDICT

Kia answered the key criticisms of its Rio with the latest mechanical updates. Despite the price it doesn't feel inside like a massive jump in luxury over the S model inside, but the reward comes from punchier right-foot performance.

AT A GLANCE

KIA RIO GT-LINE

PRICE $21,990 drive-away.

WARRANTY/SERVICING Seven-year unlimited km warranty, capped servicing $2027 for five years with intervals every year or 10,000km.

ENGINE 1.0-litre 88kW/172Nm 3-cylinder, seven-speed auto.

SAFETY Five star, six airbags, AEB, lane keep assist, rear view camera, reverse sensors

THIRST 5.4 litres/100km.

SPARE Space saver.

CARGO 325 litres, 980 rear seats folded.


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