Review: 2012 Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi 90 hp Drive 5-door.

by Oct 4, 2011All News, Kia, Reviews8 comments

Finally we test drove the long waited from Kia, the All-New 2012 Kia Rio. The “sub-compact” from the Korean automaker renews it making a new generation, adopting the new image already seen in the last models from Kia, like the Sportage, Picanto and the Optima (that finally will come to Europe on the begginings of 2012).

Pulse aquí para ver la versión en Español de esta Review.

The new Kia Rio grows to 4,04 meters of length (which is 6 cm larger than the precedent Rio5 and 2,5 cm wider). The wheelbase its also larger “noteably”, moving from 2,50 to 2,57 meters (7cm). The 4dr sedan version, for now, will not be available in Europe.

Early next year, the 2012 Rio5 will be completed with a 3-door version, at first, only available in Europe and South Korea. In Europe, the Kia Rio are available with two petrol engines (1.2 CVVt “Kappa” with 86 hp and 1.4 CVVt “Gamma” with 109 hp) and two “CRDi” diesel engines (1.1 CRDi with 75 hp and 1.4 CRDi de 90 hp). The korean automaker has not yet announced of 3-door engines will be available. All of this engines are available with six speed manual gearbox, except the 1.2 CVVt, available only with five speed manual gearbox.


Today we’ll tell you in detail the impressions of the Diesel 1.4 CRDi 90 hp, with 6 speed manual transmission. But first we’ll talk about the other diesel engine available. Its the fuel saver 1.1 CRDi with 75 hp that consume only 3,2 liter/100km (at the moment, the internal combustion engine with less consumption and emissions sold in Europe).

These excelent data of fuel-saving belongs to the “EcoDynamics” version (starting at more less €12,000), that includes a series of specifics rules to reduce the consumption, with a intelligent stop and go system engine (Kia calls it ISG) low rolling resistance tyres, a drag-reducing front grille, gearshift indicator and rear spoiler. This version lacks of A/C and its not available as a option (to equip it in some european markets you’ll have to buy the version without the EcoDynamics package – 3,8 l/100km –, starting at more less €13,000). In Europe, the EcoDynamics package its only available with the 1.1 CRDi and 1.4 CVVt “Gamma” with 109 hp.

Previously, we tested this engine on the Venga (the same 1.4 CRDi) only difference was this version had 75 hp with five speed manual shift. In the Rio, with 15 hp more, better aerodynamic and ligther weight (1239kg – Rio and 1342kg – Venga), the small diesel gives a satisfactory response in every circumstance, is comfy and its powerful enough to move the car w/o any problems. Although it has a economy fuel consumption of only 4,1 l/100km, at the end of our highway and city driving, it gave us a consumption of 6,1 l/100km. The Rio is very comfortable and stable in the highway and very “funny” to driving in the city because of the great and soft handling.

What is also surprising is the standard equipment, which is very complete from the cheaper versions. For example, from the range “Basic”, we have elements such as electronic stability control (ESC), six airbags, trip computer or Hill Holder, among other things. However, the air conditioning are not available in this range (neither as an option), only available from range “Concept” (in Spain) In other countries, like UK, Kia offer “Air” range to the basic engines, with manual A/C.

Both version “Drive” (as our test car) like the “Emotion” includes automatic air conditioning. Kia has limited the optional equipment (the only available are the metallic paint -300€-). To get a alloy wheels (available up to 17 inches wearing 204/45R17 tires), navigation system with a seven-inch screen or a sport kit, you will need to contact with your dealer.


On the inside, the 2012 Rio is not only quieter than the last gen, it seems quieter than many vehicles costing twice as much. Kia has also used Thinsulate (a synthetic fiber thermal insulation) in the A and B pillars to increase passenger tranquility. The interior is very comfortable, the standard driver’s seat is six-way adjustable and can be raised and lowered in height if needed. The feel of width its present in all the seats, only if you use 4 of the 5 was approved (the rear center seat is uncomfortale due to the harder seats, more longer and its higher compare to the both laterals, also what get in a smaller size until the roof). The driving position is good for every driver thanks to the seats have a many adjustments on the height, and that’s its a good thing (trust me, I’m 1,89m) and the Tilt-Wheel adjustable steering column.

As I said, in the Rio you can sit very close to the floor, something that some drivers will like, very weird on cars of that size. The front seats gives a fastening more than right, even though it doesn’t have pronounced contours (grabs better than the Kia cee’d). The headrest are very active, in case of rear collision it follows the movements of the head to provided good protection against whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. The “Drive” range only has power windows at the front and manual windows at the back. The cluster is very complete and easy to read. The trip screen is available in all models, it has two odometer (A and B), it gives information of the average of gasoline consumption, the average speed, remaining autonomy and also the time of the last time the car has been driven.

Some drivers will miss the second trip of consumption to control 2 the miles driven. The rear seat have a almost flat floor that helps with the placement of the feet, and the changing between seats, for example, when one of the doors cannot be open for any circumstance. The seat backs can be reclined easily with a proportion of 60/40, the seatbelts are located in each side at a higher location. The trunk has 288L and also has 4 hooks where you can attach a net for your packages, two small holes to drop some small objects, one with a small net of the left and the other with a plstic lid on the right. The trunk is iluminated with a bulb located on the left. Under the “floor mat” there is a tire emergency replacement.

In the model we test drove, the trim “Drive”, includes steering wheel controls for audio, Bluetooth (including the hands free) even though is different to the more complete version “Emotion” that includes cruise control which swaps for the hands free control and trip computer at the chrome section on the steering wheel (we could test this unit at the dealer and the position of this control its at an uncomfortable position).

The Rio’s interior feels solid. The plastic material on the interior are hard, but of a good quality. They are nice to feel it and at view. All the controls have a good feel, specially the steering wheel and the shift knob which are very accessible to the driver. In this way, the outstanding A/C control with new button inspired on the airplane cabin. We found ourselves with many pocket holes for different objects, although the glove compartment has a reduced space.

We can leave small packages at the doors pocket, between the front seat and the front seat backs, thanks to a net. The glove box doesn’t have a lock. Also its very well iluminated thanks to the front-sun umbrella with a light and two roof-lights, one at the front section of the roof and another at the center. In front of the shift knob, the fully equipped version (like the one we test drove), has a 12v charger plug, a cigarette lighter and a USB – iPod conection with aux-in.

The sub-compact made at the moment from South Korea (maybe in a future it could aslo be made in Zilina, like the Venga) has the suspension that’s makes it very comfortable (because it filters very well the irregularities of the road and it blocks them so they are not feel inside the car) and it holds very well the chassis in a curve. It’s very pleasant to the drive the Rio for this good relation between quickness and comfort. This provide a good stability while driving in highway with winding roads, where with continuos change of direction and hard supports it barely balance.

This car is very comfortable due to a very gentle steering but a bit slow some times, it can be parked very easily but for the same reason it made us to steer a bit more to maneuver at small street or garages. Sitting at the steering wheel, the visibility is really good in all directons, but not so much at the back due to a small rear glass and the big rear pillars, I have also noticed forward vision difficulty, by a very rounded front (like a egg) and the dashboard’s design (image) don’t let you see clearly where the front ends of the car. The outside mirrors are larger and let see fine.

Key facts:

  • Engine size: 1.396cc.
  • Horsepower: 90 hp to 4000 rpm.
  • Horsepower RPM: 1750-2750 rpm.
  • Top Speed: 172 km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 14.2 seg.
  • Fuel Economy: 4,1 L/100.
  • CO2: 109 g/km.
  • Gearbox: 6 speed manual.
  • Weight: 1.239 kg.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 43 liters.
  • Lenght: 4045 mm.
  • Width: 1720 mm.
  • Height: 1455 mm.
  • Wheelbase: 2570 mm.
  • Luggage capacity: 288 liters.
  • CX Aerodynamic coefficient: 0,30.


  • ABS.
  • Electronic traction control.
  • Brake assist system.
  • Four disc brakes including two ventilated discs.
  • Drivers airbag, passengers airbag with de-activation switch.
  • Height adjustable seat belt with pre-tensioners on drivers seat and front passenger seat.
  • Two head restraints on front seats with height adjustment, three head restraints on rear seats with height adjustment.
  • Isofix preparation.
  • Height adjustable seat belt on driver side rear seat, height adjustable seat belt on passenger side rear seat, 3-point seat belt on central rear seat.
  • Front and rear side curtain airbags.
  • Front side airbag.
  • Stability control system.
  • Halogen headlights.
  • Front fog lights.
  • Hill holder.
  • Automatic air conditioning with fully automated climate control and one climate control zone.
  • Central door locking: Operated by remote Includes dead bolt.
  • Body colour power door mirrors.
  • Front electric windows with one-touch on one window, rear manual windows.
  • Power steering.
  • Leather covered multi-function steering wheel with tilt adjustment and telescopic adjustment
  • Audio system with CD player that reads MP3 CDs ; radio receives AM/FM/LW and RDS.
  • Six speakers.
  • Bluetooth connection.
  • Driver seat: individual type, heated adjustable height, passenger seat: individual type, heated.
  • Asymmetrically folding rear seats: bench type with space for three people; reclining with zero electric adjustments.
  • Five seats configured 2+3.
  • Painted front and rear bumpers.
  • Body colour power door mirrors ; heated with integrated indicator lights.

See the complete gallery:

[miniflickr photoset_id=72157627825377039&sortby=date-posted-asc&per_page=35]

Special thanks to Coki Photography and:

Written by Jose Antonio Lopez

Passionated about Korean cars from Hyundai, Kia & Genesis. Photographer. I love being in nature, hiking. Tech lover.

Pin It on Pinterest