July 15, 2015 @ 05:29 PM

Review: Kia Rio SX

Naza recently face-lifted the Kia Rio, has it lost its essence? By Jerrica Leong

Naza recently face-lifted the Kia Rio, has it lost its essence? By Jerrica Leong

You have to admit, the Kia Rio is much more stylish car since it was first introduced. Shocking had come to mind when the less adventurous of us first set eyes on the first generation Rio that landed in Malaysia and the Rio had been drawing attention for the wrong reasons. But the Rio that we now know is a much more attractive car and our fellow countrymen seem to agree with the style since there are more on the road. Not only does the car look good but it also came with a number of features that makes the value for money factor a lot to think about.

The latest itineration comes only in one variant, the SX, with standard 17-inch wheel rims and all the advanced safety equipment as well. So how does this most recent version feel like when we get behind the wheel? 

Exterior (Score: 5/5)

As I’ve mentioned the Rio is millenniums better than the first car, while I understand that every car has their own niche admirals, the latest Rio does not attract just the niche anymore, instead it has found a mass following.

The 17-inch wheel rims and the front grilles gives the car more presence on the road while the daytime running lights makes the car look like it has eyelashes. There is just something that about the Rio that would draw appreciation from both male and female.

Interior (Score: 5/5)

The first thing that came to my mind in the first ten minutes of driving is how beautiful the interior is. If feels like the Mini Chilli that our editor test drove last year! It’s a unique set up inside, while the seats are not leather wrapped it is comfortable and bucket-like. The air-condition that comes complete with ioniser’s buttons are like toggles with the central lock button fitted beside it as if it belongs with the system.

Barely any noise sips inside and neither was there much interference from the engine revving, but push the four-geared engine up pass speeds the car is capable of and only then would the car start to protest.

Power and Handling (Score: 3/5)

It’s smooth. That’s the best way to describe the Rio’s engine, when I first entered the car I almost thought the car was off. There is not an extra vibration to be felt when the car is left idling. It would be the perfect companion in traffic hams if only the Rio doesn’t require one a lot of finesse to modulate the throttle to prevent the car from deep-diving its rear end. Not a joke, the nose shoots up every time the throttle is applied a little too hard. Release the throttle too fast and the car will jerk as if it was pushed. But once you’ve gotten the hang of modulating you would soon forget this phenomenon.

The car’s steering is heavier than expected. This could be the result of steering 17-inch wheels that the Rio wears. After a few days with the car, I have come to a conclusion that the 17-inch wheels are just a fashion statement. It’s like girls and their painful six-inch heels, they’re painful but they look good. Thanks to the bigger wheel rims, potholes are your worst enemy when you’re driving, in fact, the stretch between CAR HQ and Puchong IOI had caused nightmares.

Tech and Safety (Score: 4/5)

The Rio doesn’t have the most advanced technology like a screen for touching or a system that reads out your messages but you get all the basic tech that still keeps you connected. Connection via Bluetooth is a breeze and you get keyless entry and push-start button. Don’t be fooled by the switches on both sides of the steering, the buttons on the left controls audio and Bluetooth connectivity but the buttons on the right side does not mean cruise control like many other cars, cruise control is not existent on the Rio those buttons control the meter cluster.

Oh yes, the folding mirrors can still be operated even when you’ve turned the car off, just as long as the key is still in the car. This makes it convenient for the more forgetful side of us!

You get the ultimate top spec safety system for the Rio. The SX comes standard with six airbags including side and curtain and a number of Isofix in the rear seat to fit more than one rugrat. Thanks to the six airbags, the Rio qualifies for auto door lock and impact sensing auto door unlock.


The Kia Rio looks brilliant after undergoing a few transformations and I must say that the interior feels very premium, just like the Kia Optima. But the four-speed gearbox makes the car uncomfortable and the heavy steering is not the most ideal in the city. But look on the bright side, with that heavy steering you don’t have to hit the gym too often and those wheel rims will help make a fashion statement anywhere you go. Just try to avoid the potholes when driving around KL.

Overall score: 17/20

On Sale
RM79,080.00 on-the-road with insurance and GST
1396cc, Gamma 1.4 MPI DOHC CVVT, 108bhp @ 6300rpm, 137Nm @ 4200rpm
Four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Length/ width/ height/ wheelbase (mm)
4050/ 1525/ 1455/ 2570mm

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