“ Brand: Kia / Model: Rio / Type: 1.4 Petrol „
My beloved Toyota Corolla's slow demise began in 2009 and with hindsight I should have bought a new car long before I finally realised the Corolla had given up the ghost. It had become a money pit for me over the final year I owned it with exhaust issues, battery problems and finally piston faults in the engine meaning I needed a new car.
I never mastered the manual gearbox when I learned to drive, preferring instead to learn in an automatic car so this limited the kind of car I could buy. After some research I decided to switch my allegiance from Toyota to one of the Korean manufacturers as unlike so many companies these days they still make small cars with full automatic gearboxes.
I eventually decided to buy a Kia - swayed by the 7 year warranty their new cars come with and their scrappage scheme which would enable me to trade in my old Toyota for £1,000.
After checking the cars in Kia's range I decided to buy a Rio, and in particular I opted for the Rio Domino which was a limited edition range available in 2010. The Domino was available only in black or white (hence the name) but there were several options available, including the choice I made, the 1.4 litre petrol automatic version.
I wanted a 1.4 litre engine to cut back slightly on the cost of taxing my vehicle and also because I needed something that wouldn't be too sluggish on the motorway.
The Rio Domino I bought was a black five door hatchback and because I needed it quite quickly, I didn't get any upgrades on it so it's pretty basic. It's the first brand new car I have ever owned and I paid £8990 for it - a price which included black metallic paint and the first two annual service fees but not the trade in I got from my Corolla.
The warranty does cover most mechanical issues but in order for it to run intact you must get your car serviced by an official Kia dealer. The warranty is for the car, not the owner, so if you choose to sell your car before the warranty period is over the new owner will be covered by it too.
Earlier this year Kia completely redesigned the Rio, giving it a makeover which makes my 2010 model look dated already. The design is functional rather than sexy and this isn't the sort of car I would imagine a young lad would want to drive to impress the girls with. Instead it is a solid looking car with a more homely look than the sexily redesigned Rio.
When I was researching cars the thing that always seemed to come up regarding the interior was the word "plastic" and sadly this is very true. The dashboard in particular looks very cheap, and it's also something of a dust magnet. The seats are of a decent quality and certainly I've never found the driver's seat to be uncomfortable and nor have any of my passengers. Adjusting the front seats is easy and all seats have headrests which are equally easy to adjust.
The boot is smaller than my Corolla and can accommodate two medium sized suitcases or one large one. The spare tyre is located here too. If you wish to expand the boot the rear seat back can be folded down for more space and I was amazed at how easy it is to do this after struggling with this on previous cars. It's to Kia's credit that they have tried to keep things simple with the Rio meaning making adjustments easy to do without relying on the manual.
There are mirrors on the sun visors but no mirror covers, something I must admit annoyed me at first but I have got used to now. There's no boot opening clasp inside the car so you need to go outside to open the boot and adjusting the mirrors has to be done manually on my car. You can get these features on upgraded versions of the car however.
All versions of the Rio Domino do come with alloy wheels, so no danger of your hubcaps falling off with it.
==Driving the Car==
I have now owned my Rio Domino for just over a year and have driven just over 10,000 miles in it. Most of my driving is urban although I do use motorways fairly regularly for short trips. I've only done one fairly long journey in the car and that was driving to Blackpool and back earlier this year, which is a 400 mile round trip.
For urban driving the Rio offers a smooth ride with a fairly quiet engine. One thing it doesn't offer is particularly good fuel economy however, and generally I am doing well to get 40 miles to the gallon.
Driving on the motorway is fine if I am on a fairly flat stretch of the road but if I hit an incline the lack of power in the engine can be a problem and it sometimes can feel like an eternity before I hit 60 or 70 mph. Occasionally the transmission can be a bit sluggish changing gear when I am accelerating too and I quite literally feel the car miss a beat very briefly. Kia claim the car can go from 0- 60 mph in 14 seconds but I would add the caveat "not on an incline".
The dashboard may be cheap but it tells me all I need to know. What is irritating however is the fact the indicator and wiper controls are on different sides to any other car I have ever used before and I really cannot understand why Kia have done this. When I first got this car it took me ages to get used to the indicator being on the right hand side of the wheel and then I got confused all over again driving a hire car in Las Vegas earlier this year where I continually turned the windscreen wipers on when I meant to indicate a turn - much to my sister's mirth.
Another niggle is the fact there's no warning when you leave the lights on once you have turned off the ignition. My old Corolla made me very aware if I had done this and I really miss not being told on the Rio.
The car comes with an FM/AM radio, CD player and a USB link so you can play your iPod through the music system. I've never had a CD player in a car before and had expected to listen to lots of different discs in my car but in reality I tend to stick to the radio almost exclusively. I have played a few CDs on longer journeys and have found the sound quality to be excellent and no jumping of the music. The iPod link is a bit gimmicky however and you don't have anything like as much control over what you play, leaving me to put it on shuffle and treating like my own personal radio station.
Tuning the radio is easy but it does have an override on the preset channels which finds it defaulting to the local BBC news station whenever traffic news comes on air. For some people this might be brilliant but I really hate it when it cuts into a song I am particularly enjoying on Radio 2 and I have to switch it back over. I have tried to switch this off but cannot work out how to do it despite pouring over the manual.
There's a charging socket for a phone or mp3 player which I have found particularly useful on longer journeys when the battery life on my daughter's iPod has started to fade.
The car does have a habit of misting quite badly in the rain but the demister works brilliantly on the car - so long as you run the air conditioning system. The wipers are good with intermittent, constant and fast levels for the front windscreen. Unfortunately the rear windscreen wipe only runs at one speed level which is constant.
In just over a year's ownership I have found maintenance has been minimal. I had the oil and filters changed after six months ownership and the first annual service was undertaken in August 2011 by my dealer. I paid £329 for two services and the first MOT, which my dealer claimed was an offer price but having had a Toyota service done on my old Corolla I would imagine a Kia service would cost at least £200.
The first service didn't bring up any issues apart from a minor fault on the suspension which was actually a recall issue. My dealership hadn't informed me of this prior to arranging the service so I can only conclude Kia's way of dealing with the problem was to ensure it was fixed at the service.
This isn't a particularly cheap car to run but it's still slightly more cost effective than my Corolla. The annual excise duty costs £155 and the car falls into insurance group 13. As mentioned, the claim that this car can do 40 miles to the gallon is optimistic if, like me, most of your driving is urban - 30 miles to the gallon is perhaps closer to the truth.
Because the warranty is invalidated by service work done by any garage other than a Kia approved one that too can bump up costs.
The Kia Rio Domino 1.4 has proved to be a good car for me. I use it mostly to drive family members to and from the shops and for jaunts further afield. Generally there's only me and one other person in the car at a time and it's spacious enough for four people to sit comfortably but I must admit five is a bit of a squeeze, despite the car having seat belts for five.
Most of the niggles I have with the car are minor so while it's annoying that there are no covers on the vanity mirrors inside the sun visors, it's hardly a deal breaker. Same with the location of the indicator and windscreen wipe controls and the cheap looking interior - although I do admit that's the sort of thing that might put some people off the car.
It drives well and doesn't look too bad for a middle aged woman but I do concede that younger people might find it looks a bit lame in comparison to some other cars of the same size.
That said many similar sized cars from other manufacturers cost a lot more than the Kia Rio Domino and don't have that tempting seven year warranty. If, like me, you prefer to drive an automatic car then Kia do still fit a decent automatic transmission with the Rio Domino having a 4 speed gearbox which I still prefer as I wait for the new multidrive technology to improve performance wise. The Rio Domino 1.4 is the perfect car for me.