21 December 2018

Kia Rio GT Line 2018 Car Review

The 2018 year has been a busy one for new arrivals, and nearing Christmas a dizzying array of cars turned in and out of the AA garage – enough to make it hard for anything but the very special to stand out.

Kia Rio GT Line..21
IMG 0284 kia rio gt line jm 181
IMG 4940 kia rio gt line 181
IMG 4944 kia rio gt line 181

As a result, this Kia Rio GT Line might not have made the impression it normally would, especially given that at first sight you’d think another fourth-generation Rio joining the four models already on sale wouldn’t do much for the jaded driving palate, but there’s a refreshing little hit to this car, and it’s under the bonnet.

Other Rios pack a 1.4-litre petrol engine fielding 74kW for a claimed thirst of 5.6l/100km or 6.0, depending on variant.

But the GT Line is powered by a 1.0-litre turbo-charged three-cylinder engine, with a dual-clutch seven-speed auto replacing the standard six-speed sequential. The 1.4-litre Rios deliver 133kW of torque, but not this one. It puts 171Nm to those front tyres from 1500rpm to 4000, enough for perky performance at round town speeds – and a noticeable hit from rest – before torque drops off and hands over to the climbing power band which tops out at 88kW at 6000rpm, or 14 more kilowatts than the standard engine.

No, that won’t set your trousers on fire, but it imparts a likeably keen feel to performance and helps you make the most of a pleasant handling package to add a bit of zing to your commute, without getting silly about it.

Shame there are no steering wheel–mounted gear-change paddles though, tapping through the gears via the auto lever at your left hand just doesn’t have the same immediacy as a flick of the finger.

There are a few visual clues that this car has injected pep to the model range. Some spec – like the seat finish – is shared with the Limited, which also gets 17-inch wheels, but there are additional splashes of chrome, quad LED front fog lights and other little flourishes which make an effect, albeit a fairly subtle one, boosted from the rear view by dual exhausts.

There’s no danger you’ll be mistaken for a race or rally superstar in this Rio, but once you step inside there are several hints you’ve got an up-market version of the line-up. The cabin gets leather-trimmed seats with contrast stitching, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel shaped to hint at speed and suggest a relationship to this car’s rortier Stinger stablemate.

There’s a decent range of spec for the little car, including such city-friendly safety features as emergency braking and blind spot detection. There’s a reversing camera, climate control air con, a seven-inch touch screen for the infotainment and MP3 player with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus satnav with live traffic updates in metro centres. That’s joined by Bluetooth hands free, cruise control and rain sensing wipers.

Otherwise steering wheel buttons access most usual features, and other controls are large, easy to read and use.

But as we’ve said, what really what stood out was this nice little motor. It doesn’t make for a hot hatch, but it does combine engaging vigour with a reasonably frugal thirst. Otherwise the GT Line, for all its little flourishes, feels rather like any other mainstream car of this size and this price.

It is, however, the hero car of the Rio line-up despite the fact its intro deal undercuts the Limited by $1000. That won’t hold for long – it’ll sell for $28,990, 2K over the Limited to mark its role as the headline Rio, a practical and peppy little car.


At a glance


Kia Rio GT Line


1.0 litre Turbo


$28,990 ($25,990 at launch)

ANCAP safety rating

5 stars 

Power and Torque

88kW at 6000rpm, 171Nm from 1500rpm to 4000rpm


Seven speed DCT

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

800kg braked, 450kg unbraked


Front drive

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

325  litres (rear seats up), 980  litres (rear seats down)

Safety systems

  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Blind spot detection
  • Reversing camera
  • Auto light control
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Rear park sensors
  • Rain sensing wipers


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