The Kia Rio is the sister car to the new i20 but it made it into the Guide months before the i20, so has the extra development time given Hyundai’s engineers an opportunity to put clear water between the two models?
Mechanically both models share the biggest asset which is a super-frugal 1.1-litre turbodiesel 3-cylinder engine which is one of the best in the business. It may only produce 74bhp, but with 133 lb ft of torque available between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm it’s punchy. It also performs brilliantly on the official fuel consumption tests, putting more established brands to shame.
Visually the i20 looks significantly different to the Kia, hiding the shared underpinnings well. It appears to have drawn influence from a number of competitors but still manages to find its own identity. The interior is slightly old-fashioned and has a workman like feel to it, but it wouldn’t look out of place in a Skoda or SEAT. At least it’s possible to inject some colour into proceedings with a split tone dashboard option.
At this point some differences between the i20 and Rio do appear, but it’s better news for Kia: the i20 is more expensive, heavier and slower than the Rio. In order to match the Kia’s fuel consumption with the same engine, performance has been sacrificed. With the Hyundai needing a glacial 16 seconds to hit 62 mph, it’s on the wrong side of leisurely; the Rio takes 14.9 seconds to hit the same mark.
The i20 is very keenly priced, looks good, and is incredibly fuel-efficient. In fact if it wasn’t for the Kia Rio we would heartily recommend it. The problem for Hyundai is that the Rio matches it for efficiency, and beats it for performance and value. In truth they are both great value offerings, but before buying an i20 you should try the Rio.