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Published in Weekend Witness Motoring on Saturday March 31, 2012
The engine: Displacing 1396 cc, this is the short-stroke version of Hyundai/Kia’s four-cylinder, DOHC, Gamma engine. Both cylinder block and head are aluminium, with dual CVVT valve control. Put simply, both inlet and exhaust valves benefit from the constantly variable timing technology that monitors torque and power demands continuously and adjusts their behaviour to provide what’s needed at that particular moment. In this application it develops 79 kW of power and 135 Nm of torque. It was introduced in 2010 and replaced the old 1399 cc engine used in the Hyundai Getz. Transmission choices are between the group’s in-house four-speed automatic and the six-ratio manual ‘box fitted to our test car. Some countries get a 1600 cc engine with a six-speed automatic, but there are no plans to introduce that option here.
The body: Sizing of the Rio Hatch is more or less between Picanto and Soul. Its length and width slot in between the others, but it has the longest wheelbase (for people room and ride comfort) and lowest height of the three. Interior repackaging has given it 45 mm more front legroom than the old Rio, 8 mm greater headspace and 34 mm more rear knee room. Your 1,85m tester allocated eight out of ten for head, knee and foot space. Its boot is 100 mm wider than on the old car and now measures 288 litres with seatbacks upright or 923 litres with them laid down. While not huge, it is a very usable size and shape for a small-to-medium car and should deal with a couple of teenagers’ school kit quite easily. The spare wheel is a fully sized alloy unit.
The experience: Storage space for back seat passengers consists of a pair of net pockets on the backs of the front seats and bins for half-litre bottles in the door panels. Passenger safety is courtesy of a pair of head restraints and two conventional belts, although a lap strap is provided for an occasional third. Entry and exit is quite easy. Storage space is more generous up front with a pair of cup holders, two small slots, a decently sized cubby and door bins capable of holding 1,5-litre bottles and a few small items. The central CD box is fairly deep but can hold only five discs in standard jewel cases. It could have been eight, but a bulge for the handbrake mechanism takes up some space. The USB plug plays both MP3 files and iPods with WM4 encoding. A proprietary adaptor cable is no longer needed - just use the original.
Fit and finish is very good, controls are neatly laid out, switchgear is substantial and attractive and the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach. Music and phone buttons are repeated on the ‘wheel. The driver’s seat adjusts mechanically for height and air conditioning is by means of a straightforward single channel unit. Handbrake action was not evenly progressive although it did its job well, stalling the engine on attempted pull-away at low revs.
In everyday use, it goes very well for a 1400, keeping up easily with city traffic although changing down for hills, and overtaking on freeways, is necessary. The six-speed gearbox is one of the nicest we have used recently, with smooth and positive changes. Rear side windows are more substantial than on some other cars, so outward vision is good. It also steers, brakes and parks easily, making it ideal for city-dwelling small families.
Price: R157 995
Engine: 1396 cc, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder
Power: 79 kW at 6300 rpm
Torque: 135 Nm at 4200 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 11,5 seconds
Maximum speed: 183 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 7,0 l/100 km
Tank: 45 litres
Warranty: 5 years/100 000 km, with 3 years’ roadside assistance
Service plan: 4 years/60 000 km
To see the launch report and more technical detail, click here
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