KIA’s class-leading Rio has been upgraded with a change in its model line-up, two new drivetrains – one of them with turbo power – and new trim levels to spice up the light car segment.

The range has been rationalised with the Si and SLi models disappearing, replaced by the new Sport and the range-topping GT-Line.

It starts with an unchanged $16,990 entry level S model with a 74kW/133Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine and 6-speed manual, or it can be had with a 4-speed automatic for $17,490, drive-away.

Then there’s the Sport, which has the same powertrain and comes with a 6-speed manual at $17,990 or with a 6-speed auto at $18,990.

The cherry on top is the new GT-Line. It’s priced from $21,990 drive-away and should be a little cracker with a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo putting out 88kW and 172Nm.

It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and apart from its GT-Line body kit, has LED daytime-running, position, fog and tail lights.

The base S is pretty well equipped with standard features such as ABS, ESC, VSM, reverse parking sensors, reversing camera, three child restraint points, six airbags and six-speaker sound with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The step up to Sport adds the 6-speed automatic transmission or 6-speed manual, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, leather trim on the steering wheel and gear shifter and electric folding mirrors.

The GT-Line, at $21,990 drive-away, adds AEB and Lane Keep Assist as well as Idle Stop and Go.

Satellite navigation, however, is no longer a feature. Instead, buyers need to link their smartphones to the infotainment system.

“The Rio has always been a foundation stone of the Kia brand,”  Kia Australia boss Damien Meredith said.

True. But it took a long time to come to Australia.

However, it’s been a good thing for the brand ever since it arrived.

Like other vehicles in the Kia line-up, the little Rio ripper also gets a 7-year warranty and 7-year roadside assist and capped price servicing.

Sport 1.4i6AT$18,990
  • All prices are drive-away


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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.