The new Kia Rio, one imagines, must have fulfilled its maker’s intentions for it rather neatly.

It’s an even more practical, parsimonious and mature prospect than the car it replaces, and you could hardly ask for a more resolutely worthy, servile or grown-up supermini.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
More comfortable and more grown-up but not much more fun

Yet for all its functional virtue, the Rio is made to look one-dimensional by the opposition.

And that’s because while it succeeds in the narrowest of furrows, the Ford Fiesta, Mini hatch and Mazda 2 all seek to go that extra mile in one way or another, while in every way doing so in a more well-rounded and fulfilling manner.

Consequently, while none of those rivals can claim to accommodate a rear passenger quite as easily, all of them drive in a way better suited to indulging the enjoyment of their owner.

For us, unexpected driver engagement is still what best distinguishes a small, affordable car – and this Kia, although undoubtedly improved, still doesn’t offer enough of it to qualify as a true great.

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