Spent a lot of time recently researching small cars looking for something for my daughter to buy. Started out looking at second hand Mazda 2 or similar but soon found that if you wanted 6 airbags and stability control you would need to spend more than her 10K budget.
We decided that if she was spending that much she may as well spend a little more for a new car with a warranty so started investigating Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra, Suzuki Celery etc. Originally did not consider the Rio as advertised price was outside the budget and had trouble finding what "real world" prices were compared to advertised prices.
Discovered a well hidden ad for the base model Rio at $12,990 driveway, and after a test drive purchased in manual, 3 door, standard white for that price with $500 cash back from Rio as she is a student.
Despite being the absolute base model the car is pretty well kitted out for a vehicle at this price level, 6 speed manual gearbox, reasonable 1.4 four cylinder engine, bluetooth streaming, 6 airbags and dynamic stability control.
The styling inside and out is pretty good, certainly doesn't look as much like a toy car as some of the alternatives we were looking at.
Fixed price servicing and seven year unlimited kilometre warranty reduces the chances of "surprise" expenses coming up and gives peace of mind - mainly to me as I'd be the one likely to fix any mechanical dramas!
The car drives well, steering is a little numb around the centre mark but is nice and light and it handles corners pretty well. The six speed gearbox is smooth with a light action and clutch, combined with the hill hold function it's a great set up for someone learning their way with a manual. The engine is remarkably tractable for a small low output engine, almost refuses to stall if in too high a gear just chugs away slowly until it gets up to speed.
The car is very quiet, sometimes difficult to tell if the engine is idling or not from inside the car. The Interior does have some hard plastics as you'd expect at this price point but looks modern and everything is clearly laid out without any ergonomic disasters. Visibility out the back is not great, part of the price you pay for the styling.
Compared to smaller, 3 cylinder, made in India options I've been very impressed by the value of the little Kia.