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Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics Review

21 May 2012 by Paul Clarke



Kia Rio

Eco Facts

Model/Engine size: 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 88.3 mpg

Green-Car-Guide rating: 8/10

The Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics
is the most economical car you can buy in the UK (out of non-electric models), returning 88.3 mpg – so should you buy one?



• The most economical conventionally-engined car you can buy in the UK

• Basic car is competent in most areas

• Three-cylinder diesel engine is noisy and overall the car could be more refined

• This highest mpg model doesn’t have air conditioning

kia-rio-002.jpg Background

Kia may not have had a great reputation in the UK a few years ago but all that has now changed. The company is bringing us an onslaught of new models in 2012, and the vast majority of them are generally very impressive.

The new Kia Rio is basically a good car. The question is, do the measures that have been implemented in order to give us a car that is capable of 88 mpg have any impact on the new Rio?

kia-rio-003.jpg Design & Engineering

The design of this latest Rio is sharper than previous Rio models. In common with most other current Kias, the styling is pleasant enough, and there’s not much that offends you. Compared to Kia models of old, the new Rio appears to be more of a European-flavour supermini in terms of its looks, but you feel as though it’s been designed to fit in with the crowd rather than to stand out from it.

It’s a similar story inside; the dashboard is simple yet attractive, but it doesn’t ooze with character; most of the materials seem of an appropriate quality, but some of the plastics feel cheap. For a car of this class, the Rio feels comfortable, and both the interior and the boot are relatively spacious. Overall the Rio has a solid feel.

kia-rio-004.jpg Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics Driving Experience

Most Kia Rio models are good to drive, and they feel stable and refined. The car is compact and has decent handling. Its steering has relatively quick responses, even though the system doesn’t provide much feel. The Rio doesn’t have the sharp driving dynamics of a Fiesta. This ‘eco’-version has a three-cylinder diesel engine so it’s noisier than other variants in the range. You might expect poor levels of performance from such an economical car; although it’s not going to set your heart racing, especially with its long-gearing, it’s not as slow as you might imagine. Although it’s mostly comfortable, with a good ride, our test car did crash over potholes – more so than other Rios we’ve driven. There’s not much wind noise but there is some road noise.

kia-rio-005.jpg Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics Economy and Emissions

The Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics has a number of special features which aim to optimise its fuel economy. The efficient 1.1-litre 3-cylinder diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, is the main item of engineering that is responsible, along with its ‘Stop & Go’ stop-start system. It also has low rolling resistance tyres, and a drag-reducing front grille and extended rear roof spoiler. The car also has plastic wheel trims rather than alloy wheels.

As it is the UK’s most economical conventionally-engined car, with 88.3 mpg, and CO2 emissions of just 85 g/km CO2, the Rio scores top marks in this area. However these economy figures are according to the official NEDC fuel test, which is a level benchmark for all cars; on our test it only achieved 61 mpg. This was over mixed driving including motorways; although 61 mpg is impressive for the average car, and is one of the best results that we’ve had for a car on test, it’s a long way off the official 88 mpg.


kia-rio-006.jpg Equipment and Model Range

The Rio is well equipped, including in the area of safety, but air conditioning is an option due to the fact that it hits fuel economy surprisingly hard . This means that this model theoretically gains some extra mpg, but it also means that the interior of the car becomes very warm in hot weather. You can specify a Rio 1.1 CDRi with air conditioning, but the economy drops to 78.5 mpg. Yes, that’s a 10 mpg difference purely because of the air conditioning. There are also trim levels 2 and 3, offering more equipment. Apart from this 1.1-litre diesel, there’s a 1.4-litre diesel and two petrol options , a 1.25 and a 1.4-litre.

The Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics costs £11,895, which represents good value for a car that is essentially good and that also has class-leading economy, and so low running costs. It also has a transferable seven-year warranty.


kia-rio-007.jpg Conclusion

If you like the idea of owning the UK’s most economical car , then the Kia Rio is the one for you. However this car comes with our normal health warning about official mpg versus real-life mpg – based on our experience you would have to drive this car very carefully to come close to 88 mpg.

You would also have to cover sufficient mileages to justify the investment in the diesel rather than the cheaper, and more refined, petrol engine. So if you do long distances and if you’re prepared to make an effort with eco-driving, then the Rio will reward you with very low running costs . But bear in mind you may be uncomfortable in hot weather, and the overall levels of refinement suffer compared to other Rio variants.

The Kia Rio gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10 ; it scores highly for the efforts that Kia has made in the area of high mpg and low emissions, along with its good value; it drops some marks because there are some areas of compromise.

Car Facts and Figures

Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics data

Fuel economy extra urban: 94.2 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 80.7 mpg

CO2 emissions: 85 g/km

Green rating: VED band A – £0

Weight: 1155 Kg

Company car tax liability (2012/13): 13%

Price: £11,895

Insurance group: 3

Power: 74 bhp

Max speed: 98 mph

0-62mph: 14.9 seconds

DPF: Yes

Paul Clarke


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