2022 Kia Rio 1,4 LS Automatic

2022 Kia Rio 1,4 LS Automatic

In the hunt We step out in Kia’s new entry-level 1,4 Rio LS automatic

Kia has added some spice to the Rio line-up, handing its B-segment hatchback fresh exterior styling and improved tech as standard, while introducing two entry-level derivatives to the range: the 1,4 LS manual and automatic. Slotting in above the Rio 1,2 LS, these models boast the Korean carmaker’s familiar 73 kW/135 N.m 1,4-litre four-pot, coupled with either a six-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission with the same number of cogs. Of the two, we’ve driven the latter. Are the updates and new models a recipe for success?

The exterior revisions are subtle, yet, when viewed alongside the pre-facelifted model we also drove on the launch, notable. The refreshed Rio sports a narrower version of Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille and a redesigned front bumper and foglamp housings. A welcome addition to the LS models is a set of 15-inch alloy wheels, which replaces the former’s steel items. It looks good, dressed in Signal Red (Sporty Blue and Perennial Grey have also been included in the palette), the Rio drew plenty of attention.

The most significant update, however, is found inside, where the previous LS’s basic infotainment console has been ditched for an eight-inch touch display (standard across the range), featuring niceties such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Bluetooth functionality. A couple of USB ports, fore and aft, allow passengers to charge their smart devices wherever they sit in the vehicle. The sound system has been upgraded, too, and now relays your favourite tunes via six speakers instead of four. Together, these updates lend the cabin a more premium feel. Although some hard plastics can be found inside on this entry-level model, the interior feels sturdy. Thanks to the rake-and-reach adjustable multifunction steering wheel and height-adjustable driver’s seat, dialling in your preferred driving position is a cinch. The clothupholstered seats are comfortable.

On the launch, the naturally aspirated engine did an admirable job of keeping up with the traffic; although, when brisk acceleration was required, the drivetrain struggled to deliver as we would have hoped. A fair amount of engine buzz permeated the cabin, too, as the rev needle climbed to the upper reaches of the tachometer. Our conclusion is overtaking should be undertaken with consideration.

As we’ve previously stated, it’s a pity the Rio isn’t offered with the firm’s superb turbocharged 1,0-litre triple, as this current powerplant doesn’t quite match the refinement of its rivals’ turbocharged units. That said, the introduction of an automatic LS derivative, plus its array of updates, should broaden the Rio’s appeal in a time when people are hunting for affordable, fuss-free motoring.

  • Price: R308 995
  • Engine: 1,4-litre, 4-cyl, petrol
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Max Power: 73 kW @ 6 300 r/min
  • Max Torque: 135 N.m @ 4 200 r/min
  • 0-100 km/h: 12,9 seconds*
  • Top speed: 175 km/h*
  • Fuel consumption: 6,20 L/100 km*
  • CO2: 148 g/km*
  • Rivals: Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo

+ updated infotainment; standard equipment

— lack of a turbocharged engine option

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