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Brand New Kia Rio

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Tony O'Kane | Mar 2, 2011

Kia has unveiled the fourth-generation Rio at the Geneva Motor Show, revealing a bold new look for its smallest model.

Designed to compete in the growing light car segment with the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and Mazda2, the new Rio is slated to go on sale in Australia in the third quarter of 2011 in five-door hatch form, with a sedan arriving in late 2011 and a three-door hatch expected to arrive in early 2012.

Four engines will be offered overseas, starting with a 1.1 litre 51kW diesel inline-three and 1.4 litre diesel four. A 1.25 litre 63kW petrol inline four will also be available, while a 1.4 litre 80kW petrol four is the most powerful engine of the bunch.

Australian specifications have yet to be announced, however the 1.4 litre petrol is virtually a certainty for this market given it is available with an optional four-speed automatic (a six speed manual is standard). The 1.4 litre diesel is also a distinct possibility for Australia, however given the relatively low popularity of diesel light cars Kia may opt to stick to a petrol-only line up.

The suspension features a MacPherson Strut setup at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear, with disk brakes all around. Steering is electrically assisted, and the steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach.

Overall, the 2012 Kia Rio is noticeably larger than the car presently on sale. The new Rio's wheelbase is 70mm longer, while the body is 20mm longer and 25mm wider. Interior space has grown as a result, with 45mm more front legroom and seven percent more luggage room.

Interior trim quality has also been raised. A push-button starter, cruise control, climate control and heated seats will be available overseas, however it's unclear which, if any, of these features will make it to locally-delivered Rios.

Xenon headlamps will be optional in Europe, while LED daytime running lamps and LED taillights provide better visibility in poor weather.

The rigidity of the Rio's body shell has been improved by the use of more high-strength steel, and stabilty control, six airbags and front anti-whiplash headrests will be standard on all models.

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