The word ‘Rio’ often conjures images of the world-famous Brazilian Carnival—the festive, jubilant celebration held exactly forty six days before Easter Sunday. To the unfamiliar and uninitiated, the Carnival is considered by Brazilians as a way to bid farewell to bad things and to prepare a re-birth of sorts coinciding with Jesus Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection on Easter. Now, whether it was their intention to signal their re-birth or not is beside the point, but Kia has nailed the naming of its all-new sub-compact offering right: the all-new Kia Rio.
Now on its third-generation model, the Kia Rio is single-handedly the most important vehicle in Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC)’s arsenal. Even before the bright-red (dubbed Signal Red) Rio hatchback drove onto the main stage at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, CAC President Ms. Ginia Domingo reiterated the Rio’s status as the best-selling vehicle in the entire CAC portfolio. With such heavy weight on its shoulders, the Rio definitely has its work cut out for it. And so when the trio of Rios drove up amidst the dancing Carnival girls, there was a collective gasp. Jaws dropped. Eyes were opened by bewilderment. Kia certainly has a winner on its hands.
Upon setting eyes on the all-new Rio, you can’t help but dance a bit sexily to the all-new exterior. Penned by German Peter Schreyer, the same man responsible for penning iconic vehicles for both Audi and Volkswagen, the Rio is one of the most attractive and sportiest sub-compacts ever. Whether it’s the 4-door or 5-door model, the Rio is hunkered down; with a highly sculpted shoulder line and wedge-shaped exterior that projects athleticism. Upfront, the Rio is aggressive with the very same design motif found in the Sportage (including the LED daytime running lights on the 5-door models). The signature “Tiger Grille” has been tapered to connect to the swept headlights while the bigger intake gives a very youthful persona.
Inside, the Rio has the room and the creature features to keep everyone in a partying mood all day long. The driver and passengers are enveloped in a bold and modern cabin centered on the beautiful three-cylinder instrument panel which has an integrated trip computer. Moreover, on certain models, a two-tone color scheme further emphasizes the feeling of spaciousness and comfort. Driver ergonomics is an apparent priority for Kia designers with the Rio’s clearly marked cabin controls as well as the standard six-way adjustable driver’s seat and tilt-adjustable steering wheel for the 4-door models (tilt and telescoping adjustment is standard on the 5-door). Meanwhile, everyone will be thrilled by the Rio’s standard audio system which features AM/FM stereo, CD, MP3 and USB inputs as well as four speakers (the 5-door model once again ups the ante with two additional speakers as well as Bluetooth connectivity).
Thanks to an all-new platform with MacPherson Struts upfront and a Torsion Beam Axle at the back, making the Kia Rio dance the samba on Manila streets is an easy task. Employing high-tensile strength steel to 63 percent of its body, the Rio offers a lightweight design while offering high torsional stiffness for improved handling, ride quality and refinement. The use of these high-quality materials also improves the Rio’s performance in the event of a crash while reducing the overall weight. The Rio runs on a range of rim sizes from 175/70 R 14 to 205/45 R 17. A front vented disc brake and rear drum set-up provides ample stopping power aided by anti-lock brakes which is standard for all but the 1.2-liter model.
The Rio’s sporty and aggressive persona is aided by its range of spritely yet frugal choice of gasoline engines. The 4-door models are available in both 1.2-liter (5-speed MT) and 1.4-liter (6-speed MT and 4-speed AT) variants while the 5-door is available mainly as a 1.4-liter (4-speed AT only). Both of these engines offer ample performance (1.2-liter: 87 horsepower, 119 Nm torque; 1.4-liter: 107 horsepower, 137 Nm torque) thanks to a double overhead cam layout as well as continuously variable valve timing or CVVT (the 1.2-liter actually has dual continuously variable valve timing or D-CVVT).
And the surprise of the night didn’t stop with the head-turning good looks of the Kia Rio too. Announced were the highly competitive prices with the 4-door model starting at P 598,000 for the 1.2 LX MT, then P 678,000 for the 1.4 EX MT and topping out at P 718,000 for the 1.4 EX AT. Meanwhile, the 5-door model which adds the LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy rims, the upgraded audio system with Bluetooth, automatic climate control and a keyless engine start/stop system retails for P 838,000 for the fabric seat variant while P 858,000 for the model with the leather/fabric seating. And of course, all models come with Kia’s unprecedented 5-year/150,000 kilometer warranty.
Kia has certainly undergone a dramatic, design-led transformation. They are now delivering dynamically-styled vehicles in each of the segment it competes in contributing to the brand’s continuous and aggressive growth. With the all-new Kia Rio, the Korean carmaker can certainly continue its strong momentum and growth through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and technology. For Kia and its official Philippine distributor, Columbian Autocar Corporation, the carnival has definitely just started.