Prepare to meet Kia’s new sporty B-segment hatchback

They say great things come in small packages. In Kia’s case, that may well be true in the form of the Rio GT-Line, a "punchier" version of the company’s best-selling B-segment compact hatchback. According to Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer for Kia Motors Europe, the new Rio GT-Line offers a “range of comfort and safety features, superb versatility, and confident, sporty styling.” We normally take comments like this with a grain of salt due to their self-serving nature, but we’re making an exception this time because the Rio GT-Line does have all those qualities, and then some.

Exterior

2018 Kia Rio GT-Line Exterior
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The Kia Rio GT-Line retains most of the design features of the current-generation Rio

The Kia Rio GT-Line retains most of the design features of the current-generation Rio. That’s a given. Other than that, there are some notable additions to the Rio GT-Line’s exterior design. These additions come in the form of stylish updates, including a “tiger-nose” grille that’s now finished in gloss black and chrome. In keeping with its “GT” theme, the Rio GT-Line also receives the same “ice-cube” LED fog lamps that are part of the makeup of the cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT models. A gloss black roof spoiler is also included in the package. It’s joined by new sill highlights, LED daytime running lights, chrome window trim, and twin exhaust tips. Beyond these aesthetic and aerodynamic upgrades, the Rio GT-Line is still a Rio at heart.

Interior

2018 Kia Rio GT-Line Interior
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The seats are now wrapped in black synthetic leather and colt

It’s the same story in the interior where Kia’s upgrades for the Rio GT-Line revolve around subtle yet effective upgrades. The seats, for example, are now wrapped in black synthetic leather and colt. There’s also a contrast grey stitching included in the package. A new “D-cut” leather steering wheel should get your attention because of how sporty it looks relative to the standard steering wheel. Even surfaces like the door switches and gear lever get their own upgrades in the form of metallic trim surrounds, while the dashboard gets its own carbon fiber-effect finish.

Drivetrain

2018 Kia Rio - Driven Drivetrain
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Note: Current Kia Rio engine pictured here.

Power still comes from a 1.0-liter turbocharged inline-three cylinder engine that produces 118 horsepower, 12 more than the Rios we get here in the U.S. All that power is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. If the Rio GT-Line gets a similar push off the ground as the 118-horsepower Rio First Editions that were released a few years ago, we can expect the new hatch to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 118 mph. It’s not much, but for a car with this size, it should be enough to have a lot of fun with it.

Pricing

2018 Kia Rio GT-Line Exterior
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Kia has yet to release pricing details for the Rio GT-Line. What we do know is that it won’t make its way in the U.S. A Kia spokesperson informed Car and Driver of that. That said, look for the hatch to carry a price tag approaching $20,000.

Competition

Ford Fiesta ST-Line

2017 Ford Fiesta High Resolution Exterior
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It’s not just the similarity in name that makes the Ford Fiesta ST-Line a direct competitor to the Kia Rio GT-Line. Just like its Kia counterpart, the Fiesta ST-Line offers a more focused setup than standard Fiestas. The high-trim Fiesta receives a lower sports suspension, new sports seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a new set of 17-inch alloy wheels. It even has its own share of new aero bits. If there’s one thing the Fiesta ST-Line has over the Rio GT-Line, it’s a diverse engine offering. The Ford hatch is powered a similarly sized 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost, but it does have output options to choose from. Likewise, Ford is also offering a bigger 1.5-liter TDCI diesel that pumps out 118 horsepower. Regardless of the Fiesta ST-Line’s variety, the Rio GT-Line still has the makeup and potential to be a worthy challenger to the Fiesta.

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Fiesta ST-Line.

Conclusion

2018 Kia Rio GT-Line Exterior
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The Kia Rio GT-Line isn’t going to jump out of any pages. But for a car of its size, it packs a good amount of upgrades that make it feel more premium than it is. That’s the trick automakers like Kia usually employ when they try to create some differentiation between trim options. It succeeded in that regard with the Rio GT-Line because the hatchback looks and feels like a different Rio. It may carry the name, but there’s a premium feel to it that makes it more attractive than it really is.

  • Leave it
    • Still doesn’t have that "wow!" factor
    • Engine options would be nice
    • Not available in the U.S.

References

Kia Rio

2017 Kia Rio High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Rio.

2018 Kia Rio - Driven Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2017 Kia Rio.

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Read more Kia news.

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