Kia is constantly lauded for the coherence and clarity of its design, winning a stream of accolades in Germany's prestigious Red Dot awards, but it is not a company to rest on its laurels. Kia design is always evolving to take into account changes in customer demands, while remaining faithful to the mantra established by President of Design and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer when he began the process of harmonising the appearance of the company's cars in 2006. All of that is evident in the all-new Rio, which is now sold only as a five-door car.
The latest Rio is a bigger car than its predecessor – not by much, but sufficiently to alter its stance and proportions and give it a fresher, more modern appearance. The design of the car was a joint effort led by the company's studios in Frankfurt and at Irvine, California, with input from the main design centre at Namyang in South Korea.
It is 15mm longer than the outgoing car at 4,065mm, and has a 10mm longer wheelbase of 2,580mm. But the front overhang has been lengthened to create the space for a longer, sleeker bonnet, while the rear overhang has been shortened and the C-pillars are narrower and more upright. The height has been reduced by 10mm, to 1,445mm, to emphasise the sleeker and more mature appearance of the new car, and the housings for the sharp-looking projection-type front foglamps, which are standard across the range, have been pushed outwards and upwards to give the all-new Rio an appearance of width and stability.
The signature 'tiger-nose' front grille is wider and more slender, and blends seamlessly with the new bi-function headlight units with their U-shaped LED daytime running lights. The 'tiger nose' grille is in fact not an air intake at all – that is now incorporated in the dynamically surfaced bumper – but a stylish design feature in gloss black with either a silver paint or a chrome surround.
The stretched bonnet enhances the stability and volume and straight, clearly defined lines run along the all-new Rio's shoulders and doors, further stretching the appearance and emphasising the car's superior aerodynamics compared with its predecessor. The Cd figure is now 0.316 instead of 0.33.
The straight line which starts at the grille and runs through the headlights and along the top of the doors continues around the rear of the car, where there are now more sculpted lamp units – LED on the ‘First Edition’ model. The tailgate glass is now almost vertical. The overall exterior appearance of the car is distinctive, mature, clean and modern, and characterised by straight lines and smooth surfacing.
The door handles are neatly and smoothly integrated, while the prominent flat-surfaced wheel housings tightly encase new-style wheels of 15, 16 or 17 inches in diameter. These are alloy on all but the grade ‘1’ model.
The exterior door handles, bumpers and door mirror casings are in body colour, and there is a chrome window surround on grades ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’, plus privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate.