Recently, Kia added the new Rio to their showrooms. Three months ago, I already drove it in Portugal for a review, but since it has reached our little country, it’s time to compare it with its competitors. Today, the competition will be represented by the Volkswagen Polo. It may seem like a strange comparison, seeming the Polo has already been on the market for eight years. A new Polo is already on its way though, we’ve already showed spy footage of the coming successor. But still, we’re comparing it with this Polo, because if you like it or not, this still is the unbeaten benchmark in this class. If you get behind the wheel of the Polo, you immediately see why this is the benchmark. It’s all very pretty for this class. Good materials, just feel the leather for example… It all looks very good. The black piano lacquer, it’s just made from quality materials. It’s been put together very well, all of the parts fit without any trouble… It’s a very nice car to see. On the other hand however, if you look at the lines, you notice the car has been around for a while.Sure, the satnav has been renewed a couple of times, but if you put everything together; it has aged… That also when you notice the Kia is completely new. The lines are a lot more modern than the Volkswagen. The materials in the Kia aren’t as good though, not at all. The lines are very good still. Also, it’s got classic gauges. The screen is also floating a little, something Kia’s very proud of. These knobs here sticking out, nice detail as well… Kia has done a very good job. The connectivity is also very well done, there are USB-ports in the front, but in the back as well. Kia understands children these days are paying more attention to their devices, than their surroundings. The new Rio has a longer wheelbase, which ultimately stands for more legroom in the back. But does it? Well… It’s very close.Of course, it’s a B-segment car, so don’t expect any miracles, but right now I’m poking my own back with my knees. However, the headroom has been improved. That’s because the rear of the car has been made steeper, so there’s more room available. In the back of the Polo, you start noticing everything is subjective. That’s when the Rio is a very spacious car. Right now my knees are against the back and my head is touching the roof. The Kia also takes home the victory when it comes to the back-department. Even though the Polo has a very decent 300 litres
of luggage space available, the Kia takes the cake with its 325 litres. That’s amongst the top in its class. When you start driving the Polo, you just feel why it’s the benchmark. It’s a very nice driving car, it feels quite sophisticated.Especially the chassis. It’s quite soft, but very communicative at the same time. It’s a very pleasant car to drive. It feels like it’s one segment bigger, and that’s pretty neat. When it comes to the engines, it’s a little bit tricky to compare these two. At this moment, Kia only has the 120 horsepower version available. That’s not the engine which really matters, because that will be the 100 horsepower version. Anyway. Volkswagen then said they didn’t have a 110 horsepowerr version available, so this is the 90 horsepower version. That means less power, but still – and I find this very good – you don’t really notice. This engine, a 4-cylinder TSI, almost feels as powerful as the 120 horsepower Kia-engine, and that’s very good. That’s partly because of that 4-cylinder engine. Now matter how good those 3-cylinders are, and they are improving, I still think a 4-cylinder engine is a more fully fledged engine, it feels and sounds more real.If you compare the seating position, I can’t help but notice the high seat in the Polo. When I got in this car, I kept looking for a button which could lower the seat, but this already is in its lowest setting. But that might say more about the Rio, in which you’re very low. Right, this is the 120 horsepower-petrol version, earlier, I drove the 100 horsepower in Portugal, and the latter will be the one you’re going to want in the Netherlands. And I think that’s true, the difference between the engines is very small. This engine is good, the 100 horsepower-version as well, because it really produces sufficient power. Because it’s a little less isolated and because of its 3-cylinder engine, it’s noisier than the Polo. It also sounds more tinny, but that speaks more for the Polo, instead of the Rio. Not bad at all. For a Korean car, it’s a very communicative car, from a steering perspective. You can clearly feel what you’re doing, and it isn’t a particularly light car.That’s something most Korean car manufacturers could learn from. The total chassis is moderately soft. If you’re driving on very bad roads, like there is just ahead, with lots of stones, the Rio might struggle, but if you keep driving on good roads, like there are in
the Netherlands, it’s pretty comfortable. Not as comfortable as the Polo, but I still like it. The red one or the grey one, always a hard choice more people will have to make… Kia has done a very good job, they’ve come very close to the Polo with their Rio. The Rio even outscores the Polo on a few points, think of the space inside.On the other hand, Volkswagen has also done a very good job on keeping the Polo modern enough. Choosing between the two is very hard, so we’re tallying up the votes. You’ll see the results in AutoWeek 16, and to make it extra exciting, we’ve added a third competitor. Our longterm car; the new Citroën C3. .