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This is the three-door 1.25-litre Kia Picanto Halo, which doesn’t sound like anything interesting until it becomes evident that the Korean maker is marketing this car as a range-topping model, and is charging ?11,695 for it. It’s very difficult to justify spending the price of a well-specced Mazda 2 or Suzuki Swift on the smaller and less flexible Kia Picanto. I wanted a small ecomonical car and this suits me down to the ground as I love all the extras that are there to play with. The 488's incredible engine and handling and open-top experience make for something very special indeed. The Isuzu D-Max is starting to show its age; after a drive in the range-topping Blade version, is it still competitive?
Scotland’s Car of the Year judges named the small, three- or five-door car as their favourite car in the small car market for 2011 in the prestigious awards. Boasting Kia’s all-new design language, the new Kia Picanto was launched in the UK in September and has been praised for its low prices but high quality interior and fun driving dynamics. Kia’s seven-year warranty can be transferred to a second driver and lasts for seven years or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. It's a big step forward from the original Picanto and feels as good as many larger hatchbacks, particularly from behind the wheel where it's more comfortable and refined than before.
It's fun to drive with good handling in corners, a forgiving ride and responsive steering, yet still a doddle to park and slot into tiny spaces.
As is standard across all the Kia range, the Picanto comes with the unique seven-year warranty as standard - something which no other brand can match. Kia’s prize fighter Rio is the brand’s best-selling vehicle globally and has enjoyed much success in the local market with sales averaging over 200 units per month in 2014. One way to attract customers is to blow them away with attractive styling and Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors, has done just that with this facelifted Rio. Step inside the Kia Rio and you are met with a predominantly black interior with hard plastics dominating most surfaces. This Kia Rio comes with a multifunction steering wheel with mounted audio and Bluetooth controls and the steering wheel is also height and reach adjustable. In terms of space, the Kia Rio offers a fair amount and rear passengers will be happy with sufficient leg and head room. Our Kia Rio test unit is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol engine that offers 79 kW and 135 Nm of torque driving the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission. At higher speeds the Rio copes well but due to the lack of tractability, overtaking requires a bit of planning and downshifting to access the necessary power.
The Rio comes fitted with an impressive six airbags, ABS, EBD and rear park distance control, but that’s where the safety features end.
The Kia Rio 1.4 Tec manual on test here is priced from R216 995 excluding the sunroof (R7 000). The Kia Rio won us over with its good looks, but excitement deflated the moment we stepped in for a drive.

This is an ultra competitive segment and even though the Kia Rio is well-built and affordable vehicle, it gets outgunned by its turbocharged rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo, Opel Corsa and Renault Clio.
Gero Lilleike is a published writer and photographer with most of his work appearing in the fields of travel and motoring. There are no changes to the mechanicals of the car, only to its cosmetics, but it does feel a touch sharper due to the stiffer body – honestly you’d need to drive it on track to notice.
The Picanto three-door is hardly trying to take on the Renaultsport Twingo in the hot microcar stakes, it’s just adding an extra element of appeal to a very well sorted car. If you value equipment levels above space and you’re in the market for a new ‘mini then feasibly this could be the car for you. What does this 567bhp range-topping brute have to offer, seeing as it costs more than ?100,000? Five-door versions start from £7,995 and three-door models will go on sale later in 2011.
The compact five-door hatchback has been the brand's best selling car for the last seven years and is one of the best small motors around offering great value for money.
It's a great looking car too with a sharp front end and a sporty profile, yet there's been no sacrifice in terms of interior space with particularly impressive headroom for rear seat passengers. Combined with a starting price of around £8000 this makes the new Picanto amazingly good value for money, but there's more to the Picanto than merely a low list price. The facelifted Kia Rio was introduced to market in February 2015 with some minor exterior and interior changes to keep it relative and competitive, but it faces serious competition in the B-segment from cars such as the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Opel Corsa, Ford Fiesta and Mazda2. It’s difficult to deny the Rio’s good looks and it’s probably a big reason why it’s selling so well. This particular model is fitted with comfortable leather seats and the driver’s seat is also height adjustable. The centre rear passenger will however have to make do with a lap seatbelt which could be scary in an accident situation. In real terms, those figures are sufficient for your average daily runabout, but if you are looking for punchy performance, you won’t find it in the Rio.
Most of the Rio’s rivals, such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, offer traction control and ESP, which puts the Rio on the back foot in terms of safety spec. For a car that looks so pretty, we feel Kia could have done better with the interior execution as well as improving the ride quality. Gero has worked in the motoring space for the last four years and enjoys driving and photographing the latest cars.
This Halo edition includes heated steering wheel, front seats and wing mirrors, gloss white dash fascia, reversing sensors and alloy pedals, and various exterior additions such as chrome twin pipes (make your own judgements there).
So the fact that the brakes are still a little too sharp and the steering touch a too vague is unlikely to matter so much as the fact that it rides well, is nicely finished inside and comes with every extra and more that you could expect. But realistically we’d say go for a mid-range five-door 1.25 and save yourself ?1500, or buy one of the aforementioned bigger cars for a more practical and rewarding driver’s car.

The second generation Picanto grows up with a sleeker style, more space and a higher quality interior. This revised Rio comes with a re-worked ‘tiger-nose grille’ and a new front bumper with lower air intakes and fog lights which gives the Rio a bit of sporty flair. This facelifted model features chrome accents around the air vents as well as new piano black trim around the radio, which in the opinion of some reviewers, looks rather tacky as opposed to being perceived as being upmarket. Family orientated buyers will appreciate that the Rio comes fitted with rear ISOFIX child seat mounts. It soon became clear, that despite its sporty looks, the Rio’s performance is rather sedate and you really have to hammer the pedal to get the most out of it. As a result, the Kia Rio doesn’t deal with poor roads very well and imperfections are felt crashing into the cabin regularly.
Alongside the five-door model, a sportier three-door version was introduced in September 2011.
It also comes fitted with some snazzy-looking 17-inch alloy wheels which rounds off a good-looking offering. Boot space is in line with its competitors at 288-litres and expands to 923-litres with the rear seats folded flat. A turbocharged engine in the Rio would offer more flexibility and make the drive that much more exciting. Nevertheless, the Rio isn’t all bad as it offers decent space, a solid warranty and competitive pricing, which may be enough to keep buyers happy.
Overall, there’s not much to get excited about inside the Kia Rio as it seems to be rather ordinary. The loading sill is high though, which means you may pull a back muscle loading heavy items into the boot. Thankfully, shifting through the gears is relatively smooth and comfortable, making the Rio an easy, fuss-free car to drive on a daily basis, albeit lacking in the power department. The absence of ESP and traction control may be of concern to safety conscious buyers, especially when considering other cars in this segment have moved the game forward in this regard. This test unit also came fitted with an optional sunroof (R7 000) which brightens up the interior somewhat. One reviewer, I think from that other site, asked why makes other than Ford don't have heated front screens!

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