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The new Kia Rio debuts at Paris

If the Fiesta isn't quite sensible enough for you, meet Kia's latest alternative

The Paris motor show has yielded many new cars, but perhaps none are quite as sensible as this, the new Kia Rio.

So it’s probably not the car that will be slapped on many teenage walls, but the new Kia Rio will likely be the sort of thing you’ll end up riding in at some point. Why? Well, Kia managed to move getting on for half a million of the last model in 2015, so improvements across the board are unlikely to make it less appealing to frugal, practical, badge-unconscious types wherever they may be.

This is the fourth generation of the Rio and it features a completely new look. An updated front end styling - the ‘tiger nose’ grille stays, but it’s slimmer and wider, flanked by ‘bi-function’ lights (we’re not even sure what these are) - longer bonnet and front overhang. There are new creases, a thinner C-pillar and a more truncated bottom. Overall it’s a smidge longer than before (15mm) and a tad lower (5mm) with a 10mm longer wheelbase. So far, so marginal.

Making use of the extra chassis length is a re-designed rear torsion bar and independent front suspension, which Kia reckons give the new car “greater driving appeal, with more agile and immediate handling, while improving ride comfort”. Which is as vague a set of key performance indicators as you’re likely to get.

New Rio also gets Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as standard. Which is all very nice, but more significantly you also get ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian recognition (which uses radar to try and mitigate a collision) as well as a Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS). This is big-car stuff for the B-segment. And it might be a acronym overload, but it’s all very useful for keeping your nan safe when she pops to the shops.

Providing power for the front-driven set-up are a variety of engines ranging from Kia’s latest three-cylinder 1.0-litre T-GDI (turbo gasoline direct injection) with either 98 or 118bhp, 1.25 and 1.4 four-pot n/a motors and a 1.4-litre diesel four. The cleanest should hit sub-90g/km, but even the ‘dirtiest’ of this lot should scrape under the 120g/km mark. The more powerful engines get a six-speed manual, lesser loads a five-speed, and there’s even a four-speed auto for those with weak left legs.

Inside, it’s even better: ok, so the Rio looks like it nicked several ideas from the Audi/Mercedes interior playbook, but there’s not much wrong with that. Those are good ideas to borrow. There’s decent connectivity in the shape of Apple and Android hookups, and a proper stereo with 7-inch touchscreen. Coupled with the more mature exterior design, it looks like a very attractive car that will hit the shops at the right kind of price. Good work Kia.

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