Stepping out of the Kia Sportage from before and into this Kia Rio EX was admittedly a bit of a downer. Literally as well as figuratively. In the Sportage I sat comfortably high and in well upholstered seats with a demanding view over other traffic. The Kia Rio is decidedly low. The space in the front is ample, but when I position myself comfortably there is not a lot of space left behind me. The car is in a totally different segment of course, but the contrast was pretty stark.
Exterior design wise I was left a bit saddened to see that the main character on the body side of the previous generation was left out of this one. I was fully expecting to see such a distinct character feature to be developed, milked into interesting surface treatments with much more perceived volume than actually there. By completely removing this strong character, what is left is a rather bland side section on an otherwise anonymous car. Quite sad after the strong showing of the previous generation. Overall I don’t think this Kia’s design is the strongest in its lineup. There seems to be plenty opportunity at the front, the sides and the rear to make it more distinguishable without becoming too outspoken, but that was not taken.
On the interior, the seating position was good, the red accents combined with the carbon fiber look did make it look sporty, but there seemed to be an atmosphere of thin, weak within the cabin, which made me feel a little unprotected and gave me the imprression that the car supposed to look cheap. I never had that with the previous Kia Rio, rather completely the opposite, and I don’t think this is the impression Kia wants to portray.