It might surprise some folks to know that Ford’s Festiva sold here since the nineties was a Kia in blue oval disguise.
As the death knell tolled for the Festiva, Kia released their own small car, the Rio, in July 2000. Kia was hoping to snare cash-conscious buyers in this segment, just as the Kia Carnival was already successfully doing in the people-mover market.
Models and Features
Rio offered two body styles (a five-door hatch or four-door sedan), a 1.5 litre engine and a decent list of standard equipment compared to others in its class. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard with a four-speed auto an option, as was metallic paint.
Standard fitments included air conditioning, driver’s airbag, power steering, cloth trim and CD. Hatches also scored a 60/40 slit-fold rear seat. Anti-lock (ABS) brakes were not available on the Rio.
January 2003 saw a facelift and a few added extras, including a security upgrade courtesy of an immobiliser as standard. Power windows and mirrors also made the feature list by September 2003.
On The Road
On the road Rio is a mixed bag. Fuel consumption is reasonable and engine performance is equal to anything in its class, though the automatic transmission was criticised as being less efficient than its counterparts and prone to hunting between gears in hilly situations.
Like many small cars the manual version is probably better and was the most popular choice.
Front seats are firm and lack lateral support, while in the rear adult passengers will find leg and shoulder room tight, though rear headroom is good. The limited width of the rear seat will mean that carrying three adult passengers in the back is not an option.
There are height-adjustable headrests front and rear but no lap-sash seatbelt for the centre rear passenger.
Oddments storage space is reasonable but the boot is sizeable. However, like many small cars, the Rio’s child restraint points are fitted at the rear of the boot and the child restraint straps will impinge on cargo space.
Sedan versions do not have a split-fold rear seat like the hatch.
Ride is firm, which means the car can thump over bumps and crash into potholes.
Rio is generally rowdy, with plenty of engine, wind and suspension noise. Engine noise increases significantly as the revs rise towards the red line.
Other minor criticisms of Rio include small and fiddly radio controls and variable build quality, with average plastics, poor fitting trims and ordinary paint finishes.
The passing years and kilometres may have left their mark, so a thorough inspection for general wear and tear or issues related to lax servicing is advised.
From 5.5 to 9.7 litres/100km, depending on model and conditions.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to RACQ's online car price guide or contact our Motoring Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.