Manual cars with naturally aspirated engines are in shorter supply these days. So, driving a new offering is a refreshing and welcome change from the bevy of turbocharged automatics on the market.
Among the (mostly smaller) passenger vehicles that offer both these features is the compact hatchback Kia Rio, a popular and important model in the Kia line-up.
However, it competes in the hotly contested B-segment locally, facing stiff competition from other hatchbacks, like the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo.
The Rio, though, has undergone a bit of a nip and tuck. Apart from a minifacelift, it now offers better infotainment and connectivity features, and increased standard features.
Of more significance perhaps is that another model has also been added to the range, the affordable LS grade, benefitting from a more powerful 1.4-litre powerplant. While the 1.2-litre LS still provides the entrylevel point to the Kia Rio range, Kia have now added an LS model in both manual and automatic to its 1.4-litre line-up.
The refreshed Rio range retains its four specification grades, namely LS, LX, EX and the halo model in the Rio range, the Kia Rio TEC.
finweek hopped behind the wheel of the newly introduced Kia Rio 1.4 LS manual.
Exterior changes are so discreet that at first glance not much seems to have changed since the all-new Rio launched here in 2017. But look a little closer and you notice that the “tiger nose” grille is a tad more pinched, and the front bumper has undergone a minor redesign, now wider and lower. Alloy wheels have been added to the LS entry-level grade, but essentially the hatch’s crisp profile and pert rear with its high-level (third) brake light and lip spoiler remain mostly unchanged.
Styling changes might be almost indistinguishable, but the latest iteration is really about the bits and bobs that have been added to the standard features list, as well as the new 1.4 LS model.
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