- Featuring bold, innovative styling, a spacious interior and world-class safety features that comply with US and European regulations
- Equipped with an all-new powerful engine and a wide range of standard convenience features
In what is already a banner year for Kia Motors Corp., the launch of Rio on Nov. 6th is certain to provide additional growth momentum that will carry the company into 2000 and the new decade. Building on the enormous popularity of the Carens, Carstar and Caravan minivans as well as the Visto minicar, Rio is a strong reassertion of Kia's competitiveness in the subcompact segment where it is confident of duplicating the sales success of its minivans and minicar.
Rio is the latest chapter of a highly successful subcompact car development program that began in 1986 with the Pride/Festiva and continued with introduction of the Avella/Aspire in 1994. From design freeze to the rollout of job one, the Rio program was completed within a span of 33 months and required a total investment of 280 billion won (US$233 million), including prototyping, engine development and production retooling costs.
Available in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback versions, Rio features bold, innovative styling. Termed “Power Round Design” by its creators, Rio projects a dynamic, sporty look that sets its apart from the competition. Oval shapes and gentle, rounded contours dominate the exterior but they are offset by subtle angular design elements which most notably are evident in the headlamps and taillights. The multi-reflector headlamps feature crystal clear lenses that impart an upscale image while the taillights are extra large for improved visibility and safety. The side view reveals a rounded wedge profile that is both aerodynamically efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
The soft theme continues in the interior which features abundant headroom and legroom. Cabin ergonomics are superb starting with the cockpit-style instrument panel which offers all information at a glance. Switchgear requires an absolute minimum of effort to locate and operate. Careful attention has been paid to the design of the seats which feature improved lower back and femoral region support to minimize fatigue. Naturally, a full range of seat adjustments are possible including foldable front seat armrests. High quality materials and craftsmanship are evident throughout the interior. For customers with a taste for luxury, Rio can be ordered with a leather-covered steering wheel and leather gear shift knob. The leather features a bacterial and fungus growth inhibitor for longer service life. Air vents and climate control switches are conveniently located and easy to operate thanks to the new in-mold manufacturing method for the center fascia. And for greater safety, the steering wheel features a membrane-type horn switch which widens the activation area for quicker response.
Befitting its status as an all-new subcompact for the new millennium, Rio gets an all-new MI-Tech (Millennium Innovation Technology) engine which is available in 1.5-liter and 1.3-liter displacements. With the 1.5-liter, customers are offered a choice of DOHC or SOHC while the 1.3-liter version selection is limited to an SOHC.
The cast-iron engine block has been extensively re-engineered for reduced noise, vibration and harshness. Intake and exhaust manifold lengths have been extended while valvetrains and combustion chambers have also been revised for improved efficiency and reduced emissions. Fuel economy has been improved by fitting pistons with new low-tensile steel piston rings and redesigning the water cooling chambers for improved cooling. The result is an engine that's quieter, more fuel efficient and smoother running and worthy of the MI-Tech name.
Capable of a top speed of 185km/h, the 1.5-liter DOHC has a maximum output of 108ps @ 6000rpm while fuel economy is rated at 16.2km/liter (manual 5-speed). The 1.3-liter produces 84ps @ 5500rpm and delivers 17.8km/liter (manual 5-speed).
The engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission which is equipped with a new variable force solenoid for quieter, smooth shifting. The standard gearbox is a 5-speed manual.
Rio's front axle is fitted with MacPherson struts for exceptionally agile handling and a smooth ride. The rear axle rides on a torsion beam axle which is noted for its elegant simplicity and effectiveness in soaking up bumps and potholes.
In terms of safety, Rio's CIAS (Crush Impact Absorbing Structure) provides the first line of protection. The body structure has been optimized to yield maximum strength while minimizing weight for fuel savings. Braking performance has been enhanced by increasing the size of the brake booster to nine inches. As a result, Rio requires just 43m to come to a stop from a speed of 100km/h. Additional braking improvements include ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution which automatically distributes braking power between the front and rear axles whilst compensating for the number of passengers in the vehicle and cargo load as well as weight distribution. As a result, EBD helps prevent the loss of directional control during panic braking, particularly on slippery road surfaces.
Rio engineers have paid careful attention to visibility, making it easier to see and be seeen. Rio features a low bonnet and expansive greenhouse area making it easier for the driver to see. Multi-reflector type headlamps and large-size rear combination lamps play equally important roles in improving visibility.
Door impact beams are more rigid than ever enabling Rio to earn an impressive four star rating in the US NCAP tests for side collisions. It also earned the four star rating in the 40 percent offset and full frontal collision tests thanks to meticulous chassis safety engineering. Rio's body is 60 percent stiffer than its predecessor. High tensile steel is used extensively in critical areas and accounts for 60 percent of the body's weight. Other notable improvements in passive safety include the application of depowered airbags which reduce the risk of face and chest injuries.
Rio is an impressively quiet car to ride in. Contributing factors include the application of a MacPherson strut front suspension system and a torsion beam axle in the rear. Sound deadening materials have been applied extensively throughout the car to reduce wind, tire and powertrain noise. Fatigue-inducing booming noise has been reduced by increasing the rigidity of floorpan cross members. Engine intake system and crankcase have been redesigned to reduce noise. Further noise abatement has been achieved through the application of additional rubber seals between the doors and body as well as the insulation of the cowl, hood and fender areas with sound absorbing pads.
Rio's cabin offers a high standard of comfort and convenience. Standard appointments include an electronic odometer, a high-efficiency climate control system, dual cupholders, a handy cell phone storage pocket and a built-in upper tray. Customers are offered a wide variety of upgrades including central door locks, a premium audio system that includes six high fidelity speakers and a retractable sunroof.
Rio, Spanish for river, pleasant and dynamic, is built at the Sohari plant. Annual output is set at 150,000 units including 110,000 units for export.