We drove the Kia Rio T-GDI 120 Hp: the delight of agile power…


We have a weak spot for compact cars, as they are wonderfully nimble, easy and entertaining to steer through dense traffic and over curvy roads, and hold increasingly their own on fast motorways. Such a car is also the Kia Rio, equipped with marvelous new three cylinder engine, and a lot more excellent qualities. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


The Kia Rio is constantly  developed further, and we were testing here for you already the fourth generation. Remember, the previous generation dates only back from 2011, and received a facelift in 2015. Just to show that Kia considers this Rio a very important model. Not suprrising, if one knows that the Rio is Kia’s global best seller – more than 473,000 found a buyer across the world in 2015.


The Rio now has indeed very good looks, from any angle. The typical Kia tiger-nose grille is more aerodynamic and stretched, the profile and rear end of the Rio is more taut and clean, the proportions are carefully balanced.

The same clean and confident styling language is found in the interior. We were – instrument buffs as we are – delighted to find two classic round clocks for speed and revs, with red needles and clear white lettering, like many European thoroughbreds.


A large 7 inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard in the top level equipment shows you all the navigation, infotainment functions you want, and our test car was even equipped with Android Auto en Apple Car Play, so our most exotic musical wishes were fulfulled. We also liked the clever layout of the heating/airco/ventilation function on the centre console beneath the touchscreen, very easy and intuitive to use.


Delightful three cylinder

The Kia Rio has state of the art drivetrains, with a choice between 1,2 and 1,4 liter four cilinder petrol engines, and the latest generation of three cylinder 1 liter petrol engine units Turbo driven and direct injected, with outputs ranging from 100 to 120 hp. We drove the top of the range 120 hp engine, coupled to a marvelous 6 speed gearbox. You guessed it, pure driving pleasure was to be tasted here.


The engine, which made its debut in the Cee’d, has a pleasing, thoroughbred note, and is most willing. At low revs, it is silent, smooth and docile, as a modern engine befits, but put down the throttle and it picks up flawlessy with eagerness and without the slightest hesitation, and revs up with a delightful staccato. It develops good torque of 172 Nm between 1500 and 4000 rpm, with 120 HP at 6000 rpm. Yes, a thoroughbred it is.

The gearbox shifts are slick and precise, and driving the Rio with verve is a pleasure indeed. Performance is quite sufficient, with 0 to 100 acceleration in just 10,2 seconds, top speed being 190 kmh.


Amateurs of Diesel power can opt for the trusted 1,4 liter diesel, delivering 70 or 90 hp. Consumption and emissions are impressive to say the least. We will soon drive those versions for you, and tell you more…

Urban driving is easy and inviting with good visibility, light steering and of course nimble dimensions of this supermini. The clutch is very proessive too and the engine takes up power flawlessly as we said.


Besides all its willingness, economy is quite good. We clocked an average of 6,8 liters, driving the car in a very spirited manner, with lots of zesty town trips thrown in. The manufacturer quotes 60,1 mpg or 4,7 liter/100 km as an average, CO2 emissions being 107 g/km.

Good handling and an all round character…

On the open road, the Kia Rio holds very well its own. Not only the delightful performance literally transports you, it handles quite well on winding stretches, being very predictable and surefooted. Indeed, the stiffer body shell made of AHSS or Advanced High Strength Steel and more compliant suspension are likely to deliver more engaging handling. It is an aspect where Kia concentrates upon lately, and where it wants also to earn its marks.


On the motorway, the high ratio of the 6th gear makes it a very relaxing cruiser at the legal maximums, and it won’t shame you on high speed German autobahnen. So making long trips in this supermini is quite comfortable indeed. Add to this the longer wheelbase compared to the previous generation, which is coming most to the benefit of the rear seat passengers, and you will agree that the Rio is also here a very good class contender.

It is also the first car in the B segment to have an autonomous pedestrian recognition braking system, (Autonomous Emergency Braking)

When it comes to luggage space, the high sill is somewhat harsh on your back when loading the heavier stuff, but size is amongst the best in class with 325 liters. Of course, both backrests fold back and this will get you more than 900 liters of useable space. The boot floor can also be put at two heights, useful for hiding sensitive items from sight.



What a talented compact car this is. Its drivetrain leaves nothing to be desired, it drives wonderfully light and easy, it’s an urbanite with distinct motorway talents, roomy enough for four and their luggage, with contemporary, well proportioned looks. Its economical, sturdy, well finished and lavishly equipped, and has an enviable 7 year warranty. And with its 120 hp, it will put a smile on your face for many years to come…

Hans Knol ten Bensel




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