The Rio was the last of Kia’s core range to be given a modern day makeover and an opportunity to park next to the previous generation really hit home how far the Korean brand has come in such a short amount of time.
Kia’s design boss Peter Schreyer, famous for designing the Audi TT, has been a key element in pushing the brand’s products forwards.
The Rio is pretty striking on the road, particularly in the top 3 trim level with metallic paint.
It’s a massive step away from the boxy grey aesthetics of the previous model.
The cosmetic overhaul continues inside too, with a modern interior that stands up to Kia’s aspirations to be a mainstream competitor.
There are still some hard plastics on show and it can feel quite dark in the cabin, but the Rio is well put together and the controls across the centre console are easy to use.
Heated seats are an added luxury throughout what has been a cold and miserable April.
The Rio is spacious inside too, with ample room for adults in the back and it’s already been subjected to the musical equipment transport test, with the rear seats flipped down to make way for a drum kit in the 923 litres of space.
The interior design doesn’t quite reach Ford Titanium standards, which is only £525 more expensive without options, but it shows how confident Kia is becoming with its pricing and product quality.
Kia has become a brand jostling for position with well-established players in the volume market.
The Rio is easy to get to grips with behind the wheel, manoeuvring swiftly around town and into tight parking spaces with its light electronic power steering.
However, the 107bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine does struggle a bit if called on to pull out and overtake a lorry on the motorway.
I haven’t been able to reach the manufacturer-quoted 51.4mpg yet on my daily 40-mile commute to Peterborough from Cambridge, but it’s not tracking that for off at 46.6mpg.
Little criticisms starting to rear their head on early tests reveal a crashy ride over bumpy British roads on the Rio’s 17-inch alloys and a seating position that’s difficult to get comfortable in on a long journey.
AM’s Rio is running with a £1,250 discount until the end of June and a seven-year warranty package will still be a big draw for customers looking to strike a good balance between, value, practicality and style.