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I bought the most basic Kia Rio 1.3 model in February 2002. Baby number two was on the way and I couldn’t continue pushing my old car to the side of the road 2 or 3 times a week.
I looked at second hand cars but felt I would rather have a new car and the relative security that brings if something goes wrong in the early stages of ownership. With a very limited budget I decided on a Kia Rio. I have to say I was somewhat swayed by the speed the heater warmed up on the test drive as it was a freezing day! In addition, the boot is enormous. I keep a tandem pushchair and a single pushchair in it permanently, with plenty of space around it for the other accoutrements of running 2 children. I was not looking for a high performance car, something reliable and a good size to take me from A to B on relatively short journeys and with 5 doors for easy access to child seats. The Kia Rio fulfils that brief.
It looks a bit like a stretched out Ford Focus and I think it’s side profile is actually quite appealing. The car cost me £6000. I was lucky to have the showroom model as it already had a radio and a retracting rear parcel shelf, as these would have been extra to add to a car that had to be ordered.
Being under a 1.4 litre engine, it is in the lower car tax bracket which is another bonus.
The width of the rear seat is good too. For short journey’s I have been able to squeeze my mothers’ not unsubstantial posterior in the middle seat, between two fixed child seats. Fastening the lap belt is a challenge in this situation, but not impossible.
To summarise, the benefits I have found in the Kia Rio are:
Cheap to buy Large boot Good size rear seat Low car tax bracket Good heater! Comfortable driving position (for me at around 5’ 5”)
Of course there are some down sides. Having the most base model means no power steering and if I had the choice again I would be happy to pay it bit more to have this. This car is surprisingly heavy and is therefore it's quite an effort to manoeuvre in restricted spaces without power steering. It also means no central locking and initially it can be quite horrific to realise you actually have to open the car with the key in the lock and not zap it from 3 miles away. It’s another element of the car you get used to but I’m sure the higher spec models have central locking.
It goes without saying that this is not a powerful car. Motorway driving is quite noisy and shaky once over the speed limit, which of course I don’t do!
I have noticed, having had the car for 2½ years that the paintwork has not stood the test of time as well as I would have expected. My guess is they save some cash by not putting on so many layers of paint as on more expensive makes. Where I have had the usual dinks where doors have been opened against my car etc, you can see down to the black (probably made more obvious by the fact my car is bright red).
The most obvious disadvantage will be when I come to resell, I will be restricted to another Kia as the drop in value is predicted to be substantial.
Finally, don’t expect to make any major negotiations with the sales staff. These cars are produced in Korea at a minimal cost. I dread to think what the people who make them are paid. This basically means there is no room for negotiation on price or extras in the way you might expect with the Ford’s of Vauxhall’s of the world.
To summarise the down sides of the Kia Rio …
Check the model for power steering and central locking options Without power steering, car is very heavy Not a powerful car, but great for shorter journeys Paint seems to not wear very well No room for negotiation on price
The two-year/20,000 mile service cost me £287 at the Kia dealer. It needed the usual wear and tear items like oil and break fluid and a few other sundries. I also needed two new tyres and stupidly I let them do that at £30 a piece plus the labour time. I could certainly have got them cheaper at the local grease-monkey tyre shop. Including the labour, the tyre bit of the bill was £84.50+VAT, which would have brought the service down to a more respectable £200.
The Kia Rio is a very low insurance group – I think it is 3, keeping the cost of insurance at a manageable level.
They seem to have the UK fairly well covered. I have two garages within 10 miles of where I live.
In conclusion, I would say that if you are on a tight budget and need a car predominantly for local journey’s and perhaps need that bit of extra space for kids or dogs or trips to the tip, then the Kia Rio is for you. If you can afford something slightly above the base model then I would say it’s worth it, particularly the power steering. Happy motoring!