The 2012 Kia Rio, it’s a good car but it has a major downside, the engine.
I got this car from my parents in September 2016 to learn to drive manual, and so far it has been an enjoyable experience considering my car looks like a kitchen appliance.
This is the base S five-door model, with a six-speed manual transmission. The gearbox is nice without a long throw and the clutch is light but you do sometimes miss the bite point.
The engine is the worst part of the entire car. The 1.4L Gamma engine, with its lacklustre performance – yes, it can do the usual station commute which I will be doing after getting my Ps this September, but that’s about it. It’s slower than a Nanna walking to the shops; it struggles to get up to speed to overtake. The lack of cruise control does not help on long distance drives.
Fuel economy is quite good at around 10L per 100km in urban driving and 7L per 100km highway, and with a full tank costing you just under $40, it’ll last you about four weeks.
On to the the infotainment (or lack of it), it has Bluetooth, USB and AUX which was something I looked for when I got the car. Bluetooth is not the best and does sometimes drop out and reset the radio. The lack of a rear-view camera and sensors also doesn’t help when negotiating kerbs.
Visibility out the back is average, the back window is large enough to see out of but the pillars on either side don’t help with reverse parking, the wing mirrors are a bit small but do the job just fine.
The ride is very, very comfortable. You can go on long trips with the car without feeling tired (but I wouldn’t do it without cruise control), the chunky tyres on the car (Yokohama C-Drive 2), along with the 15-inch steel wheels are nice on the road.
The steering is very weird, however. It weighs up when moving at low speed which makes manoeuvring it quite a workout and lightens up when at speed, it should be the other way round in my opinion.
Safety was also a key buying criteria I had, with ABS brakes, plenty of airbags etc, it’s definitely a safe car and the ABS works extremely violently as discussed in the next paragraph.
I took the car to a defensive driving course and it did very well. It safely pulled up within the zone with the exception with the 80km/h stop. It also negotiated a lane change procedure at 45km/h with flying colours.
I have racked up nearly 1500kms in the six months I’ve driven it and I’d recommend the car to people who are learning to drive manual but I wouldn’t use it on long drives without the optional cruise control.