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by Brett Davis

Update: Kia Rio Review.

The new 2012 Kia Rio was unveiled in Australia at the Australian International Motor Show earlier this year. CarAdvice has already driven the new Kia Rio and has a review ready to go, but due to an embargo by Kia Motors Australia, we cannot publish our local review until September 1. International publications have already got their hands on the new Rio, however, giving us a decent preview of what it’s like.

Autoblog in the UK was one of the first to review a 2012 Kia Rio in right-hand drive. Obviously, they reviewed the Euro-spec version, which will differ slightly from the vehicle sold in Australia, but it is still the new Kia Rio nonetheless. The test car featured Kia’s 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine producing 79kW of power and 135Nm of torque. It also featured a six-speed manual transmission. (Euro-spec versions also come with an optional 1.1-litre three-cylinder diesel engine. It is unknown if the engine will make it to Australian showrooms at this stage.)

The early comments of the review focus on the Rio’s larger size compared with the outgoing model, saying it offers more interior room thanks longer and wider overall dimensions. The review says the overall height of the new Kia Rio does seem lower though, giving it a fatter stance and a more solid look, employing various design cues and technologies taken from the rapidly growing Hyundai/Kia partnership.

Apart from the nice looks – which is something everyone can judge for themselves – what we all want to know is how the new Kia Rio drives and what it’s like to live with. The review says vision through the rear windscreen is a little obstructed by the large C-pillars, but says the overall quality and finish of the interior is up a notch higher that what was on offer from the outgoing model. The review says the interior refinement isn’t quite up there with the European rivals, such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, making special mention of skinny plastics used on the door trims that could be prone to wear. Overall though, it sounds like improved interior refinement is something we can look forward to.

Comfort-wise, the new Kia Rio is apparently satisfactory, with fairly supportive seats and a comfortable driving position. Rear seat passenger comfort also seems to have shaped up well, with adequate legroom and headroom on offer, even for tall passengers. Boot space is rated at 288 litres and increases to 923 litres with the rear seats folded down. The review says the boot space is surprisingly usable, considering the curvy nature of the rear design.

Out on the road, the new Kia Rio is apparently quite good, offering a comfortable ride, steering refinement and little road noise. According to the review it only just misses out on achieving the more sporty dynamics of the more expensive rivals. A slight lack in active steering feel and a less-than-enthusiastic gear change were the only drawbacks. But as the Kia Rio is not meant to be a sports car, the advice need only be taken on board if that’s the kind of thing likely to affect your purchase decision.

As mentioned, CarAdvice will provide a full 2012 Kia Rio review on the Australian-specification models on September 1. In the meantime, it’s good to know we can look forward to the new Kia Rio, and it’s great to hear Kia is advancing on its rivals at a very fast rate. Stay tuned.

Click the following link for full details of the 2012 Kia Rio.