Kia will be debuting its new fourth-generation Rio sub-compact at the 2016 Modial de l’Automobile in Paris at the end of September, with the Korean company’s global best-seller expected in dealerships in the first quarter of 2017.
“The Rio is an important car for Kia, as our best-selling model worldwide,” said Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer for Kia Motors Europe. “The B-segment is one of the most hotly-contested areas of the new car market, and the third-generation Rio helped introduce more people to the Kia brand than ever before. As a gateway to the brand, the Rio has typically offered an attractive design, low running costs and practicality. The new model will build on these key strengths, with higher desirability, a more enjoyable drive and the most advanced safety features in its class.”
The design is an evolution of the current Rio5 (as the 4-door hatchback is known in North America), with a boxier look reminiscent of the previous generation hatchback. The design allows more room and comfort for occupants, while enlarging the cargo hold dimensions (most notably vertically, by doing away with the sloping roofline and rear window), making it the class leader when the rear seats are in use.
At 4,065 mm, the new car is 15 mm longer than its predecessor and rides on a 10-mm longer wheelbase (up to 2,580 mm). It also has a squat look to it, in profile, emphasized by a drop in height (down 5 mm, to 1,450 mm tall), a longer hood with more front overhang, and a smaller rear overhang.
The tab grille is wider but considerably more squished than the previous model, with a gloss black cover and more pronounced tabs beside the bi-function headlights that have U-shaped daytime running lights integrated. The lower grille integrated into the bumper is considerably larger, with foglights moved up and out to emphasize the width and bulk of the front end.
Around back, the rear window has less of a slope than the current model, the hatchgate panel is near vertical and the wraparound taillights are thinner with an integrated “arrow” LED light signature. As in the front, the placement of lights and reflectors emphasize a stronger, wider presence.
Inside the Rio hatchback is more ergonomically sound and will host a wealth of new technology. As with the exterior, horizontal lines and trim pieces add to the visual perception of increased width. The centre stack is angled toward the driver, adding a feeling of sportiness, and features a “floating” touchscreen for most of the vehicle controls and displays. Heating and ventilation controls below the touchscreen feature large dials and fewer buttons.
Connectivity has also been improved, with the ability to connect with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. And, rear passengers will also have a USB port through which to charge devices on the go.
The increased width and wheelbase form the base for a roomier cabin, but designers went further with re-profiled door trim, new headliner, and re-contouring the shape of the instrument panel overall. Luggage space has increased to 325 litres (up 37), and features a dual-height floor to create a space to hide valuables away, while sliding items in more easily and lining up the floor better with the folding rear seatbacks. A spare tire is optional, with the standard fitment being a mobility kit that allows the temporary sealing of most punctures until the owner can get the tire fixed.
The interior comes in grey or black fabric or leatherette. Visibility is improved through the use of thinner C-pillars and the addition of rear quarter-windows, a lower belt line and relocated outside mirrors
Among the technological add-ons are keyless entry and ignition, heated seats and steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and rear park assist with rearview camera. Other add-ons include a speed limiter, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.
Power is supplied by a combination of old and new engines, including a new version of the 1.0-litre 3-cylindeer diesel we won’t get in North America (available in two hp variations — 98 hp and 118 hp). It will also be available with a 1.4 diesel 4-cylinder we also aren’t expecting to get. Not much has been released about the North American model, so it’s speculation on our part.
Smaller gasoline engines (of 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre displacements) are available in Europe than that available in North America, which is again expected to be the 1.6-litre directed injected 4-cylinder, or a new variation of it. The standard transmission is again expected to be a 6-speed manual, with a 6-speed auto optional.
Safety concerns are addressed by a full suite of airbags (front, side and side curtains), and two types of vehicle stability management and control that serve to grant the driver better control in certain driving scenarios. The suspension system has been revised, thanks to the changes in vehicle structure. The new Rio also features a lane departure warning.
Of note is the first application in the sub-compact class of an autonomous emergency braking system with pedestrian recognition. The system uses long-range radar to detect possible stationary or moving hazards. It is paired with the lane-departure warning.
North American specs are expected closer to the car’s worldwide introduction at the Paris Motor Show.