I really do like me a small, practical, easy to drive hatchback. There’s something truly satisfying in getting behind the wheel of a quirky little hatch that does precisely what it’s designed to do: be cute as a button, and drive well in and around the city (oh and hold lots of your stuff, too).
Well, the 2015 Kia Rio 5 SX really does check all the necessary boxes. I was hesitant at first. With a starting price in the mid-teens, the Rio 5 stood a fair chance of feeling a tad cheap and lower grade compared to some of its competition out there. Well, I was pleasantly and happily surprised after my week behind the wheel of this car and would recommend it to first-car/second-car buyers in the market for just such a vehicle.
A lot for a little
To say I was shocked at the kit featured in this little hatchback would be an understatement. So, for just over $20k, the 2015 Rio 5 SX features leather seats, heated steering wheel, heated seats, 17” alloy wheels, back-up camera, sport-tuned suspension (I’ll get to that more in a moment), and a manual transmission.
Read all of that again. Then consider you’re driving a vehicle that is equipped with a 1.6L 4-cylinder GDI mill (good for 137 horsepower, but that’s not the point here). That itty-bitty engine will be miserly on fuel, meaning you’ll save your dollars at the pumps as you scoot around town in your awesome little Kia Rio 5-door.
It really is a lot of car for not a lot of cash, and I love that about it. While not as much of a bang for your buck as the Nissan MICRA, the Rio 5 does an excellent job in selling the point that you really don’t have to spend top dollar to get it all.
Then there’s the exterior look! In a muted blue, my 2015 Kia Rio 5 SX looked classy and grown up. The front fascia on the SX trim features sporty fog-light casings and Kia’s family grille and angular, LED headlights. Aggressive body lines sweep from nose to tail, and the LED taillights finish it off perfectly.
Little dude, built for the big city life
The 2015 Kia Rio 5 SX is built perfectly for life downtown. It’s small size, and small engine mean driving it around town is where it’s most at home. Equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, traffic can be a bit obnoxious, but the clutch is so forgiving and barely fights back, so rowing through gears (even in stop-and-go) is easy-peasy. I would recommend this vehicle to first-time manual drivers as well, it’s a great car to learn on.
Parking the diminutive Kia Rio 5 SX is a breeze (and the back-up camera seems unnecessary in a vehicle so small, but was a welcome addition and made things even easier). Steering feel is a bit disconnected and more for comfort than sporty connectedness, but it does the job and is the perfect fit for this particular vehicle. As is the suspension; on rougher surfaces the Rio was uncomfortable, and heavy cornering caused little hatch to lean heavily and if any imperfections happened mid-corner the limits of the suspension were reached roughly.
A small car with large space
Do you see a theme here? Let me drive the point home again: this hatchback’s big on a lot of stuff, including interior space.
I was surprised at how spacious the rear seats were, even with a rather large baby seat. Installation was a breeze, and my son quite enjoyed his time in the Rio 5, particularly his clear view of the stick shift so he could count through the gears with mummy as I drove (be still my heart!). And the trunk space is superb, with 424.8L to fill up with plenty of gear. And the load height is perfect with a small bumper/lip that meant my jeans stayed nice and clean regardless of how dirty the exterior of the car got.
Up front, the space is equally as pleasing. The driver’s seat offers great visibility all around, with easy access to all controls. I did wish for a bit more lateral support in the seats, but they were comfortable and the two-tone blue/grey leather was uber pleasing and modern. The centre stack is well laid out, and the HMI system is a breeze to figure out and functions well.
Big win for the small one
If you hadn’t already figured it out, I was quite taken with the Kia. I don’t think enough buyers give the Korean automaker the attention it deserves. Too many people think brands like Kia and Hyundai even are synonymous with “cheap” and nothing more. Well, I urge you to look again.
Kia has not only changed its image, but its quality and overall product as well. They are leagues ahead of where they used to be even just a few short years ago, and the 2015 Kia Rio 5-door is solid proof of that.