We drive the KIA Rio with new automatic transmission

Improved driving-relaxation from the Rio’s new 6-speed automatic transmission…

At the end of 2018 KIA introduced a new 6-speed automatic transmission to its RIO compact hatchback range. This replaces KIA’s 4-speed automatic transmission to offer a smoother driving experience, as well as increased performance. We spent some time with it in the Cape over the festive season, to see how its improvements fair in and out of the city…

The Rio’s predecessor quickly established itself as once of the best city cars in its segment among South African motorists, boasting good looks, practicality and comfort, as well as desirable city driving competencies. As more and more buyers are taking a liking to automatic transmissions, it’s not always easy finding one in the compact hatch segment – without having to spend an extra fortune.

Now, a new 6-speed automatic option is available on the Rio’s LX, EX and TEC models, with pricing ranging from R264 995 to R305 995 depending on which trim level you go for.

5 things we love about the KIA Rio (Auto)

Easy to park

Our top-spec TEC model included a rear park assist system, as well as a rear view camera, which you quickly begin to rely on once you’re familiar with how much easier it makes parking in the busy city! And of course, easy parking with a smooth automatic gearbox is a given!

Relaxing to drive

Whether you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, or dealing with long distance driving during the holidays, you’ll enjoy the freedom of being able to keep your left foot off the peddles and your hand off the gearstick while the automatic gearbox does all the work for you!

If you really want to enhance the level of relaxation and kick into holiday mode, our range-topping TEC model came with a sun roof and while I usually find these sorts of things a bit of a gimmick, I have to admit that the holiday mode really set in while driving along the sea side with the roof open.

Value for money

At a starting price of R264 995 for the automatic version, you still get a lot for your money even on the mid-range LX model. The Rio 1.4 LX features an extensive list of standard features, including air-conditioning, electric windows, electric side mirrors, central locking with an alarm and immobiliser, a radio system with RDS as well as MP3, auxiliary and USB connectivity, six speakers, steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls, a rear USB charging port, rake and reach adjustable steering, automatic headlight control, front fog lights, LED Daytime Running Lights and 15-inch alloy wheels, to name but a few.

Practical and functional

I spent a lot of time driving in the city, as well as out to various coastal destinations in the Cape with the new Rio, and what I love most is the amount of practicality it has to offer. A generous 325-litres of boot space means that I never had to worry about fitting all my bags, cooler bags, umbrellas and inflatables in with me. There are also loads of storage compartments to keep things like phones, water bottle, keys and sunglasses in.

It’s also very comfortable to drive – with soft, supportive seats and despite all the sand that I somehow managed to fill its interior with, it was super easy to clean with a damp cloth and a shake of the floor matts.

Improved acceleration

Mated to a naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre petrol engine, the Rio’s 6-speed auto accelerates from 0 – 100 km/hour in 12.9 seconds (previously 13.2 seconds). It’s top speed has also gone up from 166 to 175 km/hour.

Also read: New automatic transmission for the KIA Rio

Looking for a new hatch with auto-transmission?

The more you spend time with the new Rio, the more you begin to appreciate its good looks and easy-to-live-with qualities. It’s the perfect car for those looking for a fuss-free and practical hatchback that easily adjusts from busy, congested city environments, to getting you out on the open road and on your way to relaxation.

If you opt for the top-spec TEC version, you’ll get a huge range of additional features as standard, from leather upholstery, to Cruise Control and rain-sending wipers, to name just a few.

The Rio range is priced as follows:

Rio 1.2 LS 5-speed Manual                     R 230,995

Rio 1.4 LX 6-speed Manual                     R 247,995

Rio 1.4 LX 6-speed Automatic              R 264,995

Rio 1.4 EX 6-speed Manual                     R 261,995

Rio 1.4 EX 6-speed Automatic              R 278,995

Rio 1.4 TEC 6-speed Manual                   R 288,995

Rio 1.4 TEC 6-speed Automatic             R 305,995

An optional sunroof is available for Rio TEC models for an additional R8,000. All Rio’s ship as standard with KIA’s class-leading 5-year / Unlimited Kilometre Warranty, inclusive of 5-years / Unlimited Kilometres Roadside Assistance. The Rio 1.2 includes a 2-year/30,000km Service Plan, while the Rio 1.4 includes a 4-year / 60,000km Service Plan.