Quick Review: 2012 Kia Rio

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A decade ago an invitation to drive a new Kia would have been greeted with a groan, a shrug of the shoulders and a sense of acceptance more from duty rather than enthusiasm.

How times have changed.

Half of the Korean Hyundai-Kia axis and the Kia invite is now more a sense of anticipation rather than resignation.

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Landing VW's Peter Schreyer as chief designer was a coup, but the engineering qualities of its cars are equally as impressive – even if one senior insider confided that Kia has a way to go to equal Europe's best when it comes to interior quality. Still, the interior fit and finish is a hundred times better than the reconstituted Cornflake packets of yore.

The new Rio is a an example of global co-operation and ambition: it was jointly designed by Kia's European and Californian studios under Schreyer's direction and its three-cylinder diesel is a result of European-Korean engineering development. As a result the new Rio is rather grand.

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It looks stylish in both three- and five-door versions and is surprisingly roomy as well. If there were two of me which, thankfully you say there aren't, at 74 inches tall I could `sit' behind myself if I was driving with adequate leg and head room.

If you are a keen driver then on the road, the Rio is out done by , but not everyone kneels at the altar of deft ride and handling. There are swathes of car buyers who just want to get from A to B and back to A with the minimal amount of fuss and expense and in a car that's got a modicum of style.

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The new Rio does all of the first part of that and, as an added bonus, actually looks pretty damn good on the road as well.

If there's a shortcoming with the car it's, well Kia's senior suits haven't quite grasped how to name colors. The car pictured here is in `Wendy Brown' and not even Peter Schreyer could explain that, whilst I was left wondering what made Kia's `Fresh Beige' distinctive from `Beige' or `Not so quite fresh Beige.'

Read our full review here.

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