In the spring of 2017, one year ago, we compared the then brand new Kia Rio with the… Volkswagen Polo, the previous model. The Rio won the comparison, because it was more modern, more spacious, and there were some more points why the Korean car was the better choice. A new Polo has been on sale for quite some time now, so it’s time to find out how the new one holds up. When you look at these cars, you’ll immediately notice they’re in the same class. Not only because they’re aimed at the same segment, but also because both cars belong in the executive-like… side of the segment, according to their design. When they were designing the newest generation of their compact car, both Kia and Volkswagen seem to have chosen for an evolution… of the predecessor, and they’ve created a car without big design changes. That’s a big difference with some rivals. Cars like the Renault Clio and Citroën C3… are a little more playful and emits more fun, but that’s a matter of taste. If you want to appear representative and serious, you can count on these cars.On the inside, the tight appearance of the Polo is clearly visible as well. Don’t let those red and white accents mislead you, that’s all because of the Beats-trim. A pretty luxurious trim designed around the audio system by Beats. If you get a less luxurious trim level, this panel usually is black or gray, which makes it look more executive. Anyway, what you’ll get then is a dashboard with straight lines, flat spots and a highly positioned touchscreen. It’s pretty big as well, and it has a shiny finish. That looks pretty good, but it also means you’ll constantly be cleaning it, if you can’t handle dirty dashboards. There’ll always be fingerprints on here. What doesn’t help neither is that the buttons around it, which are pretty handy though, are touch-buttons, so they’ll respond to touching them instead of pressing them. Other than that, it’s a system which you’ll get familiar with pretty quickly.The seating position is very good as well. You can adjust the armrest, If you want, you can adjust the seats to a very deep position, and if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. You can easily adjust the height. It’s a car in which everyone can find a very good seating position, and that’s something we’re used to by Volkswagen really. This is a pretty dark atmosphere compared with the Polo, but that’s mostly because of the Polo-trim, so we’ll have to look past that. If we
do that, we’ve got a tight and very modern dashboard in here.The finishing is of a slightly lower level than in the Volkswagen, which is mostly seen in the cracks, because they’re nearly invisible in the Volkswagen. Also, the used materials in here is of a slightly lower quality. However, that says more about the Polo than about the Rio, because there’s nothing wrong with this. The Rio is a car which feels very homely when you get in it. You can move the steering wheel towards you, the seating position is almost perfect, and the placement of buttons and the structure of the multimedia system… is thought through all the way. It might be even better than in the Volkswagen, whilst that is a manufacturer which is known for this refinement.The multimedia system of the Rio doesn’t look as flashy… as the one in the Polo. That’s because the buttons are physical instead of integrated touch buttons. That has some advantages though, because it doesn’t get as dirty. The menu structure is incredibly clear as well. The Polo drives like the way it looks; grown-up and serious. It’s not a car which you take for a spin at night, or a car which wants you to race through corners. It’s a nice car as a daily driver. Behind the wheel, you can feel it’s bigger than the average car in this segment. It’s very quiet, there’s a lot of ease in the steering, and the shifting and clutching feel very smooth. It’s a very pleasant car to drive, without it being exceptionally good in anything. It’s the same story for the engine. This is a 1.0-litre TSI producing 95 horsepower, you’ve got a turboless 1.0-litre as well, which only produces 75, or even 65 horsepower.You can also get a different version of this TSI, producing 115 horsepower. Anyway, the 95 horsepower feels fine. It never feels too slow, it’s not too quick either, but it’s a good combination with this car. It’s starting to sound boring, but when it comes to driving, the Kia and Volkswagen are pretty similar. The Kia might involve you in the drive a little more, but the differences aren’t incredibly big. That means this car feels very grown up, and it’s a pleasant car to do your daily driving with. That mostly because of the chassis, which is very forgiving with imperfections on the surface, and a lot of ease in the steering. In the front, there’s a turbocharged 1.0-litre 3-cylinder as well, which produces 100 horsepower. Five more than the Polo, but the
difference is barely noticeable. Again, it produces more than enough power.A big difference with the Polo is that this is the entry level-engine, so Kia doesn’t even offer turboless 1.0-litres. They’re just not available, and you’ll always get 100 horsepower. If you want more, you can get the same engine only with 120 horsepower. But the same goes for this car, because you don’t need that 120 horsepower. 100 horsepower is more than enough for a car with this weight. It even feels a little feistier than the Polo, but that’s because it’s a louder engine. You can hear it’s a 3-cylinder even better than in the Polo, but on the other hand, it’s feistier. Not a really big difference, is it? With that red paintjob and big wheels, the Polo Beats looks a little better than this very humble Rio. It’s more expensive as well. In case of the Beats, the difference is about €3.000. When we strip the Polo down to the same level as the Rio however, so with satnav but without climate control, or electric windows in the back, the Kia is still €1.500 cheaper than the Polo.What the Polo does have however, and which isn’t available in the Rio, is more space. The Rio was the most spacious car in its segment, with its 325 litres of luggage space, but the Polo offers 350 litres now, so it trumps the Rio. On the rear seat, there’s more room in the Polo if you’re an adult. If that’s enough for the Polo to claim victory, is a conclusion which we’ll owe you. In the paper version of AutoWeek, these cars will not only go head to head with each other, but with our new Nissan Micra longterm and the Mazda 2 as well. .