A Wheel Thing’s week five of the Korean Sojourn wrapped up with a week of Hyundai i30 Elite petrol vs Kia’s Rio with the 1.6 gdi (gasoline direct injection) engine. Having spent time with the i30 diesel only a little while before, the petrol engine’s lack of torque was immediately noticeable whilst the delightful ride (16 inch alloys), sharp handling and comfortable interior , complete with touchscreen satnav/entertainment/reverse camera, refreshes.
The six speed manual box is slick, moving crisply between gears with a short and sharp throw. The clutch itself, as you’d expect, is light, making it smooth and user friendly. It matches well with the 1.8L powerplant’s high rev range delivery, with 110 kilowatts on offer at 6500rpm and torque just 178 Nm (the diesel has 260Nm) at 4700rpm, meaning a lot of work for right foot and left arm. It’s still reasonably frugal, with the manual having a combined figure of 6.5L per 100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank.
Spec wise, naturally, it’s almost dot for dot with the diesel i30 Premium, running shy on items such as the panoramic glass sunroof, 17 inches of alloy wheel and the leather style seating. It’s a great drive, comfortable on the road, hangs on well when pushed although will exhibit understeer in a tight turn and the mild reskin from the previous model looks the goods. More info can be found here: http://www.hyundai.com.au/vehicles/i30/specification-range
Kia is a brand that, like Hyundai, still has a measure of disdain in certain circles; quite unfairly, the stigmata from previous models is imprinted on the brand. The Sorento, Sportage and Optima go a long way to erase this, while the Rondo, Cerato, Soul and Koup add their weight too. Now there’s the reborn Rio, a sweet and round three or five door hatch plus a four door sedan, with a choice of a 1.4L multi point injected engine or a 1.6 direct injection.
A Wheel Thing sampled the three door SLi with the 1.6L, backed by the optional six speed auto. There’s 103 kW at 6300rpm and 167 Nm at 4850….this means acceleration is adequate, not brisk but will move quickly enough once the engine is spinning. It’s a petite little thing too, just 4045 mm long for both the three and five door and topping out at just under 1200 kilograms, aiding fuel economy of 6.1L per 100 from its unsurprisingly small 43L tank.
There’s plenty of safety of course; ABS, traction control, front & side and curtain airbags plus hill start assistance. The interior is comfortable, with well padded cloth seats facing a cleanly ergonomic and readable dash. There’s a touch of nostalgia with the aircon controls, with flip buttons looking as if they’ve been taken from a sixties Jaguar and powder coated. Naturally there’s steering wheel controls, Bluetooth audio and the now mandatory iPod/MP3 player connection. Although nominally a five seater, the compact dimensions of the Rio would dictate a squeezy back seat. Rear cargo space with the seats up is tight, at 288 litres but hits 923L with the seats down.
The exterior was commented upon by others, with most saying it reminded them of a Fiat….a compliment, I’m sure. The SLi has LED running lights and LED taillights, which look great at night. Coated in a lovely red named Mocha, the smooth body was complemented by the chrome and black five spoke 17 inch alloys. Shod with 205/45 Continentals, there’s plenty of grip on the straight and minimal understeer. Tyre noise is minimal, but, sadly, so is the compliance level in the ride. Small bumps crash through while the large rubber speedhumps make the suspension feel as if it’s made of bricks. It throws the Rio sideways and sharply. It’s a real flaw, tiresome on Sydney’s goat tracks and uncomfortable to deal with. Some extra give in the spring/shock setup attached to the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear may help.
The Rio is a nicely packaged little unit; it’s a looker on the outside and comfortable enough for the inside. The ride quality is, for the most part, ok but the bump/thump/crash and the lack of low down grunt take the edge of what is otherwise a pretty reasonable car. Priced at $21990 plus ORC, it won’t break the bank and it has won awards. For info, click here: http://www.kia.com.au/cars/showroom/Rio?ppc=1&gclid=CKyemdG7orQCFeRMpgodOxUA2Q#