Car Review: 2017 Kia Rio Si.

Kia’s rollout of updated and revamped cars continues, with the Rio the latest of the family to receive a makeover. A Wheel Thing goes one on one with the $22000 (includes metallic paint)2017 Kia Rio Si.Straight up, gone are the goldfish goggle eyed headlights, trimmed down to slim line units from front on and sweeping back into the fenders. The grille is reduced to a mail slot and sits above a larger and restyled air intake bisecting two smaller slots fitted with driving lights that come on when cornering. In profile the window line echoes that of the Sorento as do the tail lights and overall the Rio seems to have a more upright stance than the outgoing model.That sleek new body hides a mix of modern and dinosaur style technology. There’s a peppy and zippy 1.4L multipoint fuel injected four, good for a maximum power output of 74 kilowatts and torque of 133 Nm. That figure is reached at 4000 rpm and it’s noticeable that pull from this engine, by the seat of the paints, comes in from around 2500. The dinosaur in the room is the archaic four speed automatic transmission. This, wholly and solely, holds back any decent driveability. Under light acceleration the shift from first to second feels as if the car has hit a puddle of molasses. When pushed the drop becomes even more visible, going from 5000 rpm down to just over 2000.

Although it shifts smoothly and slickly enough, the Rio would be better equipped with a CVT. Using the manual shift option barely improves the experience. It also affects fuel economy adversely, with the official figures being quoted as 6.2L/100 km from the 45 litre tank for the combined cycle. A Wheel Thing saw a best of 7.2L/100 and that was on a freeway at constant speed after a week of urban driving.Inside it’s a complete freshen up. A real boon for people that like variety is the addition of Digital Audio Broadcast or DAB radio. Yes, digital radio in a $22K car, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a simple and clean look to the seven inch screen, which also offers in the Si and SLi satellite navigation with traffic information, with the typically ergonomic and easy to read look that typifies Kia. The leather bound steering wheel on the tilt and reach column is home to cruise control, audio, and Bluetooth buttons, with the formerly slightly sharp edges in previous versions now of a softer and rounder design.Air-conditioning is effective and the dials are old school by the fact they’re…dials. In the console below is the USB, 12V, and auxiliary ports for external music supply as the Rio no longer carries a CD slot. Vale the silver disc. The dash and console itself, of a semi gloss black plastic (which reflects badly in the dash, a safety distraction) on the upper section and a gunmetal look across the horizontal, flows and blends smoothly into the door trim. Oh, it’s a key start, not push button, for the driver and their passenger as they sit in cloth and leather trimmed seats.The 4065 mm long five door sits on a handy 2580 mm wheelbase, allowing cargo space of 325 litres with the rear seats up, increasing to 980 litres folded. With an overall width of 1725 mm and height of 1450 mm there’s plenty of leg, shoulder, and head room for four adults. There’s also a USB port for the rear seat passengers, plus ISOFIX mounts, a feature virtually standard in Australian specification cars nowadays as are the six airbags, driver safety programs (bar Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Alert).Apart from the four speed auto, it’s a delight to drive on the road. Although the alloys are just 15 inch in diameter, with 185/65 tyres the Rio rides and handles well enough for most road conditions. It’s crisp enough in turn-in with a surprising lack of understeer. It’ll lane change quick enough, given its 1162 kg plus passenger weight and will do so with minimal body roll. The torsion beam axle stabilises the rear but the rear suspension attached is a little too soft with that rear end feeling as if it would bottom out easier. The brakes also need a tightening up, with again a little too much travel before a satisfactory amount of bite happens. The usual bumps, lumps, and undulations do affect the little car but it remains mostly well tied down and does allow for a comfortable enough ride in the urban environment.At The End Of The Drive.
Bluntly, it’s a crying shame the Rio has been hamstrung with that four speed auto. The engine feels as if it wants to deliver more, the chassis is competent enough, the new look is sweet, and the trim levels across the three models provides a well appointed choice for buyers. As more and more makers with small cars with small engines move to CVTs, for all of their foibles, it’s a better option for the Rio than the current one.
For information, details on Kia’s seven year warranty and associated service plan, and to book a test drive, head over to Kia Australia here: 2017 Kia Rio range.

 

Advertisements

Car Review: 2016 Kia Cerato S hatch

Kia’s Cerato underwent a mild nip and tuck in 2016; with a reprofiled nose the main visual change it’s freshened the look even though the now superceded model wasn’t in danger of looking dated. Available in a four door sedan and five door hatch with four trim levels, (S, S Premium, Si and SLi) plus a sole 2.0L engine for the range, A Wheel Thing takes on the 2016 S hatchback with auto.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch frontEngine and transmission have been left untouched and that’s not entirely a good thing. There’s a harshness, almost a grating vibration in the drivetrain up to medium throttle, plus a notable hesitancy, a lag, in gear shifting in the six speed auto fitted to this car. The Cerato’s accelerator responds better to being pushed hard and you’ll see that vibration gone, along with the speedo and tacho needles whizzing around the dials rapidly. Power peaks at 112 kW (6200 rpm) and maximum torque is a not indecent 192 Nm @ 4000 revs.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch engineBeing a smallish capacity petrol fueled four, it’s typical that higher revs extract better performance, albeit at the cost of economy, to a point. Kia claims 9.8L/100 km of 91 RON from the fifty litre tank in the urban cycle and A Wheel Thing pretty much matched those numbers. Having said that, it’s a figure that’s too high for this sort of vehicle and is spanked by Suzuki’s new Vitara range for economy. On the highway, the six speed auto sees the figure drop to a more reasonable 5.7L/100 km. The S is the only model of the four to offer a manual, sadly.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch rearWeighing in at 1332 kilos (dry), the Cerato hatch proved nimble on its feet to counter the thirst. Although needing more steering lock than expected for low speed ninety degree turns, ie, coming into a non-stop required corner, it’s otherwise responsive, answering the call to move left or right in a freeway flow in a smooth and progressive move. The weight itself of the steering was heavier than expected, but a pleasant weight compared to the light, over assisted electrically powered systems in other cars.

Ride quality is something that Kia Australia has invested heavily on, and it shows. There’s revised springs at the front McPherson struts, a slightly stiffer setup to improve the already excellent balance between comfort and handling, plus improvements to the power steering unit, adding to the feel and weight, as mentioned. There’s even been a change to the steering’s computer processing, which enhances the three driving modes of Eco, Normal, and Sport.

Tyre grip from the 205/55 Nexen NBlue rubber is pretty damned good too, with superglue meets spider’s web when it comes to hanging on, and silently, when really thrown into turns. There’s minimal road noise as well, plus that softness can be enjoyed on the flatter roads with just a hint of float creeping in, rather than a nauseating up and down, again thanks to the springs and shocks being further calibrated for Aussie roads. The overall impression was of a slightly soft yet unfussed ride, matched with enough grip to suit most drivers in the market for this car.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch wheelOutside, the changes to the nose are reflected in the shape of the headlight assembly, grille, and lower corners of the bumper up front, with flow through vents. The effect is a sharper and edgier look and actually harkens back to the model before the one this replaces.

The rear in the S is unchanged. Not even the tail light lenses have been changed…The S is also the only version to get steel wheels and plastic covers but all four do get a full sized spare. The hatcg is also slightly shorter overall than the sedan, at 4350 mm against 4560 mm for the sedan, but both ride on the same wheelbase at 2700 mm. It also stands a fraction taller at 1450 mm, with 15 mm the difference between the two. Parking sensors? Front and rear, thank you.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch boot2016 Kia Cerato S hatch spare wheelInside, cargo space is over 620 litres, more than enough for a weekly shop for a family of four and houses a full sized spare. There’s the usual assortment of bottle and cup holders, the traditional placement of USB/Aux sockets for external audio sources plus Bluetooth as well. The S gets a non touchscreen head unit which can be optioned out to include a 7-inch touchscreen audio visual unit with reversing camera, Android Auto connection and dusk sensing headlights in a $500 option pack. The dash display is non colour and you’ll get the tried and proven dials for the aircon in a single zone set up.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch front seatsThe plastics themselves have a mix of textures, with the dash a ruppled design whilst the tabs and buttons have that almost suede look. Kia say that there’s been an improvement to the overall presentation of the plastics…personally you’d be hard pushed to tell. The interior is also Model T when it comes to colour choice; you can have black, black, or black. Outside one can choose from eight, including a pearl white, two shades of blue and a grey.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch dashKia don’t skimp on the safety, of course: airbags at the front, side and curtain, front seatbelt pretensioners, Hill Start Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, whilst niceties such as Land Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are left to the Si and SLi.
When it comes to warranty, there’s Kia’s standard seven years and there’s also their capped price servicing, staring at $289 for the first year or 15000 kilometres (at the time of writing) with a maximum cost of $487 for year four.2016 Kia Cerato S hatch rear seatsAt The End Of The Drive.
As always, Kia have provided a serviceable product. With a RRP of $22290 plus an optioned metallic paint cost of $520, (but a drive away price on introduction of $19990), it’s wallet friendly. Combine that with a user friendly chassis, a competent chassis, a comfortable enough office at the entry level, the only real downside is the niggling thorn of fuel economy. Ten litres per hundred kilometres is simply not good enough anymore.
More details can be found here: 2016 Kia Cerato hatch.

2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto: Car Review

2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto profileCity cars aren’t generally seen as a viable alternative to the medium and bigger cars here in Australia. There’s been attempts by big companies, such as the Mercedes-Benz backed smart car, which was more ridiculed than welcomed. There’s the slightly larger alternatives, such as the Mitsubishi Mirage and now Kia is now having a go, with a car called Picanto. In order to give the car a fighting chance, it’s been keenly priced at $14990 driveaway with metallic paint the only current option. There is a five speed manual available overseas.

It’s also been given some reasonable equipment in the sole specification model currently available, a good move given that it is due to be replaced by a newer model (it’s been available for five years overseas) in the next year and a half. You’ll get electric windows and mirrors, rear parking sensors, the full suite of airbags including curtain ‘bags, Hill Start Assist Control, Emergency Stop Signal (flashes the brake lights in a heavy or emergency stop) and halogen daytime running lights (DRL). It doesn’t get a reverse camera however.

A Wheel Thing’s test car came clad in the optionable metallic paint, a $540 ask. The colour? Honey Bee. An odd shade of yellow. Masculine, it is not. Neither are the archaic four speed auto, 1.25 litre petrol fueled four cylinder. The red backlit pixel screen radio display is another hint at age, as are also the simplistic dials in the dash and the red centre display.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto dashThe engine is covered by a bonnet about the size of a newspaper and is unadorned by the plastic shrouding so commonplace nowadays. It’s by no means a powerhouse but may actually be better served by connecting to a gearbox A Wheel Thing loathes. With just 63 kW and 120 Nm a CVT potentially would be better suited to the characteristics the soft drink bottle sized motor has.
Size wise, it’s right in the ball park for city cars and looks at the Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki Celerio and Holden’s Spark as competition.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto engineIt sits on a 2385mm wheelbase, huge given the overall length is 3595 mm. There’s 14 inch diameter steel wheels clad with plastic covers and wrapped in 160/65 tyres. Overall width is 1595 mm, making this a definite four seater only. You’ll also only get just a space saver wheel.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto front profileInside, the colour scheme is black, however that’s broken by an aluminuim look plastic swathe across the dash and the lower part of the steering wheel also has an insert, looking for all the world like a happy face. It certainly is a contrast yet doesn’t look out of place. What does, and showing that there are other models available, is the insert just above the driver’s right knee for a push button Start/Stop, as the model here is “old school” insert key and twist.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto front seatsBut there’s new school with USB/Auxiliary connections, placed in Kia’s tradition front and centre of the console. Said console lacks an arm rest, though. It’s not a deal breaker as many would prefer cup/bottle holders instead, but there is room enough for both.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto consoleThe radio is a simple push button and dial setup, along with the simplistic display, yet the sound quality is reasonable from the system. There’s no A pillar or door mounted tweeters but still manages to deliver a decent soundstage. Bass response though, was lacking, as was radio sensitivity in some areas whilst being driven around. Nice to see that the humble CD player was still included.

Although, not unexpectedly, the front seats lack electric adjustment, they’re easily sorted with the manual levers and are surprisingly comfortable. There’s black cloth covering them with what resembles an electrician’s diagram print woven in. It’s eye catching and breaks up the otherwise drab look nicely. The Picanto is a compact car with just enough leg room in the back for children or two slim adults, and the rear seats also well padded and supportive, however anyone with a wholesome figure would struggle to feel comfortable.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto rear seatsIt also means that rear cargo space is minimal, making the Picanto a more suitable car for single people or couples when it comes to a weekly shop. At least there’s folding rear seats to increase the available space to 918 litres, up from 292. Overall interior feel was positive, although there was a vibration from the sliding seat belt height adjusters under acceleration and on the rougher tarmac surfaces.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto cargoApart from the alloy look plastic insert, the steerer is traditional Kia, with user friendly toggles for audio and Bluetooth. It’s just thick enough to feel comfortable to the hands and connects the driver nicely to the front wheels. As such, there’s not much to report as the car’s chassis is competent without being overly engaging. The short overall size means, though, you can get it into gaps in traffic and car parking spaces that others may not, and the light weight means it’s fleet and easy to move on the road.

There’s a short travel suspension up front, meaning that there’s a solid thunk as the nose goes over and drops when doing the larger speedbumps at low speeds. The rear is less prone to interference, thankfully, and rides better than a competitor tested recently. There’s more stability and less tendency to skip around on curves and unsettled surfaces and hangs on well enough in twisty road situations. The tiller also provides enough feedback to get a good handle on what’s happening up front.2016 Kia Picanto Si Auto rearPeak torque is delivered at 4000 rpm, and with just the four ratios to play with, it takes a bit of time to get the 885 kilo car to…well…get up and go. But while you’re doing it you’ll be sipping unleaded fuel from the 35 litre tank at a quoted combined cycle figure of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The urban cycle is 6.7 litres per 100 and highway at 4.5L/100 km. It’ll also emit just 125 grams of junk into the air for every kilometer travelled.

Make no mistake, though, even given the relative lack of oomph, the Picanto still climbs hilly roads well enough. In the lower Blue Mountains is a road called the Old Bathurst Road, a switchback with some tight corners. It’ll do this well enough, although it’s fair to say that having no cars in front make the job a bit easier. The transmission needs a bit more refinement as well, with a lack of smoothness in the changes, some jerkiness even on the flat road, plus the engine is somewhat thrashy when pushed…which is most of the time if not freeway cruising, where it’s then quiet enough.

As a new car buyer, you’ll get Kia’s seven year and unlimited kilometer warranty, plus the capped price servicing. There’s 15000 kilometre service gaps and you’ll see a highest service cost of $415 in year six.

At The End Of The Drive.
One of the true benefits of being an independent vehicle reviewer is being able to drive cars that wouldn’t be considered as being part of the household. For A Wheel Thing, the Picanto is a car that would not suit the household’s usage pattern. But it certainly would suit a single person, a young couple, or perhaps a retired couple.
It’s gentle to drive, perhaps a tad thirsty for the engine’s size, but that lack of torque and just four speeds are why. The colour on the test car is certainly not to A Wheel Thing’s taste but that is a personal choice. To make your own choice on the Picanto a reality, go here: Kia Picanto