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What is it?

The term ‘GT-Line’ started appearing on some brands a few years ago, and they’re generally cars made to look like full-blown GTs — but without the uprated mechanicals.

They’re simply sporty-looking, and looks, as Margot Robbie and company can tell you, are everything.

However, along comes Kia with its Rio GT-Line, and the snappy looking hatch is also a snappy performer, the sole one in the 2019 range with a turbo-boosted engine.

More than that, it’s also undergone a suspension tune, comes with 17-inch alloys with premium Continental low-profile tyres, 7-speed dual clutch transmission and a big-bore (for its size) exhaust with twin outlets.

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What’s it cost?

The range starts with the $16,990 1.4 S, then there’s the Sport, which  for $1000 more, adds 17-inch alloys, cruise control, a six-speed automatic and better interior trim, and topping the range is the GT-Line.

It costs $21,490, and is an entirely different beastie, one with character, class and clout.

Instead of the 74kW four-cylinder asthmatic motor in the S and and Sport, it has a 1.0litre three-cylinder turbo, same as the power plant in the Picanto GT, but uprated to 88kW.

Oddly, the Picanto makes 74kW, but it’s a manual transmission – and exactly as quick to 100km/h as the Rio GT-Line: 9.6 seconds.

There’s no manual option for the latter and the extra mass of its auto trannie and body is probably what evens things out in terms of performance. They have similar fuel economy too.

The GT-Line is comprehensively fitted with more features you’d expect from such a compact package.

It has LED daylight running lights, taillights and foglights, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a  good six-speaker audio system, reversing sensors and camera, auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, idle stop/start plus very good instrumentation.

There’s also alloy sports pedals, a flat-bottom multi-feature steering wheel, good seating – bolstered in front – and ample storage spaces.

However, it misses out on satellite navigation and there’s ordinary air-conditioning to keep you alive in an Aussie heatwave – no climate control.

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What’s it go like?

Space for long-legged driver and passenger is plentiful in front, but the rear seats are a bit tight in legroom.

The 325-litre cargo area is quite deep and should handle most small family luggage needs age bins.

People buy GT vehicles for driving pleasure and in this regard to Rio GT-Line does a better than expected job.

The suspension has been tweaked to suit our roads, there are four decent-sized discs to provide stopping power, the steering is simply superb, visibility is A1 – and then there’s the fuel consumption.

The car has an official rating of 5.8L/100km, achieved under ideal conditions – which simply don’t exist in the real word.

But we came damn near getting there. A 300km country run rewarded us with 6.1, and after a bit of suburban and city running around we ended up with an average of 6.3.

At 100km/h the little motor spins at just a whisker above 2000rpm, and the torque is incredible.

It will happily run from as low as 1500rpm in 7th gear.

Add to that Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-distance warranty and capped-price servicing as the proverbial cherry on top.

And let’s not forget the delightful thrum of that three-pot engine.

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What we like?

  • Impressive ride
  • Strong, torquey motor
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Well equipped
  • Good looks
  • Good comfort

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What we don’t like?

  • No satellite navigation
  • No manual option

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The bottom line?

True Love said she’d be super happy with one of these cars. I’d prefer the Picanto GT — just because of its manual transmission.

CHECKOUT: Rio range topper a triple treat

CHECKOUT: Rio throttled by archaic four-speed

 

Kia Rio GT-Line, priced from $21,490
  • 8/10
    Looks - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Thirst - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Comfort - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
8.2/10

Buys

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.