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Hatchbacks

Fiat Happenings

Scattered around Australia are numerous Fiat outlets with showroom teams that are willing to buy, sell and service any of their special brand of car.  You’ll find a Fiat showroom in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast.  There are even more places around Australia who are experts in servicing or accessing parts for your Fiat or Fiat Abarth vehicles.  This leaves you very little need to hold off being the proud owner of a new or used Italian legend should you so desire.

New 2021/2022 Fiat vehicles offer a variety of small 4- and 5-seater cars that come as standard little hatchbacks or hatchbacks with a bit more Abarth pep and performance.  The Abarth brand are the performance models that are special Fiat 500s with lots of fun and plenty of zip to make your drive both entertaining and unique.  The standard Fiat 500 is a surprisingly roomy small car that is comfortable and efficient to drive.

Fiat also does a range of commercial vehicles that are mainly a variety of medium and large vans.  These are popular vans for businesses because Fiat offer their range of modern, safe vans at a reasonable price, and the team are willing to back their vans up with a competitive servicing and warranty package for any of their new Fiat-commercial-model buyers.  Fiat also offer the Ducato in a range of motorhome and camper styles.

Fiat really is a quintessential “Made in Italy” stamp with all its Italian history, style, constant innovation and decent quality being part of the modern range.  The recent Fiat 500 has seen 80% of its sales outside of Italy, and it is a model that leads the city car segment in Europe together with its cute little sibling, the Fiat Panda.

Recently, the introduction of the Hybrid Fiat 500 and Panda has given an extra boost to the sales of both models.  These are exceptionally economical cars.  In Italy, the stylish Fiat 500X has been refreshed, ready to continue playing a leading role in many Italian family’s lives.  Indeed, since its launch in 2014, the Fiat 500X has always led its segment in Italy, and the car regularly features in the European top 10 small-car segment.

Recent news from Fiat in Europe has seen some other new model launches, which would also be nice to see become available here in Australia – particularly for those of us who want to get the benefits of driving a small and efficient car with Italian style.  The final months of last year saw the new Fiat 500, Tipo, Tipo Cross and Panda range, and so Fiat has brought 2021 around with the entire line-up of cars being completely refreshed.

A lot of effort has gone into providing new Fiats and Abarths with all the latest technology, safety, comfort and style for each new variant.  New models also boast Euro 6D-Final-compliant engines across the entire range.  The Connect trim level is directed at customers who want to stay connected at all times.  Models with Connect come standard with the 7-inch Uconnect infotainment system with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the easy and efficient way to exploit the services of your device while travelling in your car.

Standard features of the 2021 Fiat 500 also includes cruise control, a sports steering wheel with built-in controls, 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lights.  You can also select the dedicated new Perbene Grey/Vesuvius Black two-tone insignia.  The 2021/2022 Fiat 500X comes with black seats, a techno-leather steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, blacked-out windows, fog lights, LED DRLs, parking sensors, along with dusk sensors and rain sensors.

Here is a picture of the stunning little Abarth F595.  Check out the gorgeous body kit and quad exhausts!

Abarth F595

2021 Subaru XV S & Premium: Private Fleet Car Review.

Subaru in Australia positions itself as a niche player. That may well be the case but it also does the brand a disservice. For example, March of 2021 saw 4,212 Subarus sold, with over 10,700 on a year-to-date basis. That puts the brand, for the month and YTD, ahead of Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, and just over 300 shy of Nissan. It’s one of the brand’s best set of sales numbers.It’s an astounding result for the company here in Australia given the range is Outback, BRZ sports coupe, Forester, Impreza sedan and wagon, WRX, and Impreza wagon-based XV. There is no large SUV nor a two or four door, two or four wheel drive ute.We were able to drive, back-to-back, two examples of the late-2020 updated XV. In honesty, the naming system needs work, with a base model simply called XV, then L and a hybrid, Premium, then S and a hybrid version. S and then Premium is what we were supplied with however it would make more sense to change S to Premium and vice-versa.

For 2021 there have been some minor changes to pricing. The base model starts from $29,690 (up $450), with the L from $31,990. That’s an increase of $380. The Premium jumps by a heft $1,170 to $34,590, with the S up by $760 to $37,290. The Hybrids, now a pair rather than a single offering are unchanged at 435,490 and $40,790. These are not inclusive of on-road costs.Externally there are minimal sheetmetal differences between the two. The wheels themselves are different in design, plus have an inch of diameter in difference. The Premium has 17s, the S has 18s and a more striking design. The Premium sources rubber from Yokohama at 225/60, the S has Bridgestones at 225/55. A mid-life update in late 2020 saw minor tweaks to the front bumper and around the driving lights in the lower sections, plus a refresh of the grille.The Premium now has folding wing mirrors and they’re heated as well. The S has self-leveling headlights and they are auto on, as are the wipers. Unfortunately the Premium and below don’t have auto on lights, a safety issue in our opinion.

There is an extensive colour palette too, including Lagoon Blue for the Hybrids. There is Crystal White, Dark Blue and Horizon Blue, Magnetite Grey and Crystal Black, along with Cool Grey, Ice Silver, Plasma Yellow and Pure Red.On the road the pair have gained suspension updates too, with a change to the front providing a slightly more precise handling. The front has MacPherson struts & coil springs, with the rear having double wishbones. Although ostensibly there’s been no change to the rear it feels slightly softer and more compliant over the smaller ruts and bumps. It’s quick to damp out any intrusioons from the road however we did notice some bump steer and a slight skip sideways over road joins.Drivewise the engine and transmission are unchanged, with the 2.0L flat four working quite handily with the CVT. It’s modestly powered at 115kW, with torque a handy 196Nm. The trick to extracting the best from the CVT is to not go heavy and hard from the start on the accelerator.A light but progressive press seems to extract the best overall acceleration, with a linear growth in speed, rather than the more traditional feel of slipping under pressure.

There is manual shifting available via paddle shifts, which can be quite handy in certain driving conditions such as uphill traffic, providing the driver with more overall control. Having said that, the CVT in both did display some of the traits they’re known for, with sensations of surging at low speed, but we also have to say that they weren’t as noisy as we’ve experienced.The drive system now has the SI Drive, an electronic program that adds some sporting spice to the engine’s mapping and the the changes in the CVT’s seven preset ratios. The S mode sharpens the throttle response and the XV feels sprightlier, zippier, and makes for better highway manouvering. The steering itself has some weight to it, but not so that it’s fighting the AWD system. It’s quick in response, and is ratioed for a tight 10.8 metre turning circle. The AWD system is naturally well sorted with no noticeable pull from either end but the grip levels are noted when hunting corners at speed.

Economy on both finished smack on 7.0L/100km, equaling the quoted economy figure on the combined cycle. However, our figures were on a our traditional 70/30 urban to highway, with Subaru quoting 8.8L/100km for the urban cycle. It’s a reasonable highway cruiser, with the revs ticking over just below 2,000 at Australian limits. It’s quiet, too, with the engine only showcasing its metallic keen and the boxer warble from the exhaust when pressed.

Safety for the Premium sees the “Vision Assist” package added in, with the Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, automatic braking in reverse if an object is sensed, and a front view monitor via a left wing mirror camera. The whole range has seven airbags including a kneebag. All but the entry level version have the Eyesight package which includes Adaptive Cruise, Brake Light Recognition which alerts the driver to say the vehicle ahead has moved on, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keep Assist. The latter is less aggressive in its workings than that found in the two Korean brands. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is standard, however, across all models.The S ups the ante thanks to Subaru’s X-Mode, a preprogrammed soft-road mode for snow or mild off-roading. There’s a bit of extra “looxshoory” with memory seating for the driver, heating but no venting for the front seats, good looking stitching across the dash and binnacle, piano black gloss trim, and auto dipping wing mirrors.

The expected user controls such as Info on the lower left of the steering wheel remain, showing a multitude of options on the dashboard’s upper screen. The 6.3 inch main screen stays with its frustrating lack of information being fully displayed as in artist and song title, whilst otherwise remaining easy to read and use.Premium has cloth covering in the centre of the seats and it’s a funky mix of bright yellow stitching contrasting with the light grey cloth and black leather. The interior door handles have a faux carbon-fibre inset, with the S having a higher quality sheen. The S also has alloy pedals and footrest. The rear seats have a fold-out centre section with two cupholders.Neither have a charge pad for smartphones nor a powered tailgate. There are 12V sockets up front but no rear seat ports. Cargo space is 310L with the rear seats up, 765L when they’re folded. The spare is a temporary or space saver. With the XV being the same body as the Impreza hatch, but raised in ride height, it makes for loading the cargo bay just that little bit easier thanks to less bending down.There’s a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty on the XV range, with capped price servicing with prices available via your dealer. There is also 12 months complimentary roadside assistance, and three years satnav maps update.At The End Of The Drive. It’s an axiom of driving a car that you’ll suddenly see “thousands” of the same car all of a sudden. That was so true during our fortnight with the S and Premium, with an XV seemingly on every corner.

There’s good reason for that; the Subaru XV is a willing performer, well priced, and not a bad drive once the vagaries of CVTs are understood. Economy is a plus too, so the hip pocket pain is minimised. Not unattractive to look at in the driveway is another plus, making the 2021 Subaru XV the smart choice.

With thanks to Subaru Australia.

The 308 To Peugeot: Update Time For 2022.

Peugeot continues its rollout of updates to their range. With the facelifted 2008 available, and 5008 not far away, it’s time for their mainstay hatchback, the 308, to get the magic wand. There’s one key feature to the change, says Peugeot, and that’s to the body styling.

2022 Peugeot 308

The wheelbase has been in creased by 55mm, overall length up by 110mm, and height dropped by 20mm, making for a sportier profile. The A-pillar has moved rearwards and is raked more in comparison compared to the previous model. The nose is the new corporate look, complete with the mildly refreshed lion badge. Peugeot will offer seven colours: Olivine Green, Vertigo Blue, Elixir Red, Pearl White, Ice White, Artense Grey, and Perla Nera Black.

The wheelarches sit inside fenders with defined squarish lines, and the rear window line flows stylishly down from the roof into the triple-claw LED powered rear lights. Up front are the vertically themed LED driving lights paired to new LED main lights and strakes on the outer edges of the bumper. Exterior changes have the aero drag down to 0.28cD.

2022 Peugeot 308

Changes too for the interior, with a futuristic and hard edged style change, along with a more tactile-inclined steering wheel. Changes to the safety package see sensors in the wheel measure hand and finger pressure. This works with the step-up in the semi-autonomous driving level, with Peugeot’s Drive Assist 2.0 (where fitted) which has three new features for the Lane Keep Assist. There are: Semi-automatic lane change, suggests that the driver overtake the vehicle in front and then suggests moving back, from 70 km/h to 180 km/h; Anticipated speed recommendation, the system suggests to the driver that he adapt his speed (acceleration or deceleration) according to the speed limit signs; and Curve speed adaptation, optimises speed according to the curve of the bend, up to 180 km/h.

2022 Peugeot 308

Blind spot monitoring reaches up to 75 metres behind the 2021 308, with a higher definition rear camera providing up to 180 degrees of rear vision. This integrates into the four camera, 360 degree camera parking assist system. For colder climes there are a heated steering wheel and defrostable windshield. Peugeot include their E-call+” emergency call with passenger number information and location including the direction of the vehicle in the lane.

The boot has up to 28L of underfloor space complementing the standard 412 litres. Fold the rears eats and that increases to 1323 litres. Convenience goes up with teh addition of (model dependent) two USB-C data transfer and charge ports. Phone mirroring is wireless and the new 10.25 inch touchscreen, sitting above a silver coloured and angular centre console, part of the driver oriented cockpit, is more tablet oriented in look and usage. It’s a multi-window capable device, and has features such as a home screen tab and widget functionality.

Sounds come from France’s famed Focal audio group and in selected models listeners will have the Premium Hi-Fi system. There are 10 speakers with 4 aluminium inverted dome TNF tweeters, 4 woofers/mediums with Polyglass membrane and 165mm TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) suspension, plus a central Polyglass unit along with a triple coil subwoofer. Power is rated at 590W from a Class-D 12 channel amplifier, with ARKAMYS sound processing.

2022 Peugeot 308

To be confirmed for Australia will be a choice of petrol, diesel, and hybrid powered drivetrains. Three petrol engines with differing outputs matched to manual and autos, a pair of diesels with a manual or auto, and two hybrids.

Peugeot lists these as: HYBRID 225 e-EAT8, with 2-wheel drive, with a 132kW PureTech petrol engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions are rated as 26 g of C02 per km and up to 59 km of 100% electric range (according to the WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved). The other is HYBRID 180 e-EAT8, 2-wheel drive, combination of a 110kW PureTech engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions and range are virtually identical at 25g/100km and up to 60 km of 100% electric range (according to WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved).

Capacity for the lithium ion battery is 12.4kWh, with up to 102kW of power. Charging is said to be either a standard 3.7kW single phase charger or an optional 7.4kW single phase charger.

Final model specifications for the Australian market are yet to be confirmed, as is the release date. However, it’s currently expected to be in early 2022.

2022 Peugeot 308

2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line: Car Review.

When Toyota launched the RAV4 its a fair bet that no one would have expected that car to have spawned a completely new genre of cars. The SUV is now everywhere and has been so pervasive that brands such as Bentley and Maserati also have an SUV in their garages.The latest addition to what seems to be a never ending line of variations is the city SUV. In real terms, they’re not much more than a small hatch given a centimetre or two extra ride height and perhaps some body cladding.

Kia’s new Stonic, a replacement for the boxy yet funky Soul, drops firmly into the city SUV slot. Based on the small Rio hatch, Stonic comes in a two trim level offering, Sport and GT-Line, with an engine for each.

The GT-Line has the same 1.0L turbo three cylinder now found in Rio, a seven speed dual clutch auto, and a reasonable level of equipment. Power is rated at 74kW, torque at 172Nm. There are the usual three drive modes, being Eco, Normal, and Sport. The “base” Stonic makes do with a naturally aspirated 1.4L petrol engine. It’s priced, in GT-Line trim, from $29,990 plus $595 for premium paint, as found on our metallic black coated review vehicle.Although the Stonic is barely big enough to be placed in a shopping bag, Eco is best suited for what the name suggests. Freeway and highway driving is its forte, with Sport better for leaving traffic lights, whilst Normal works its magic around the ‘burbs.

It’s a quiet and effortless cruiser, with the engine singing quietly to itself at around 1,500rpm. Go for an overtake, and the relative lack of torque is felt for the 1,227kg (dry) Stonic GT-Line, and the auto dithers a bit as it drops one, then two, perhaps three ratios.

Economy is a curious one here. At no time did we see a sub 6.0L figure, with a best of 6.4L100km seen on a freeway run. The overall final figure was 8.8L/100km. Possibly part of that was the drive defaulting to Eco, not Normal, with a sluggish rate of acceleration, and a DCT that was at times indecisive about its actions. Experimentation found the best way to get the 1200kg Stonic under way, as with most small capacity engines and a DCT, was a throttle pressure somewhere between egg shell and light.Anything more threw the DCT into a tizz, with changes that were unsure, and waiting on the computer to tell the turbo to spin up. It was a constant battle on that front, with Give Way and Stop signs seeing the kettle go off boil and having to wait a vital second or so to start percolating again.

The suspension suffers from the same problem; freeway rides were smooth and the damping out of the usual rises and falls were dispatched without issue. Low speed ride comfort was the opposite, with some bumps feeling as if the tyre was flat and the travel to hit the bumpstop was barely an inch.

There were times when that suspension tune had the Stonic GT-Line feeling skatey, with a hint of the tyres moving across the tarmac, yet never actually losing traction in the end. Driveways had the front end bang-crash, so very slow speeds were required.The styling of the Stonic heartily evokes the Rio, with its compact dimensions and kicked up C-pillar. It’s just 4,140mm in length and that’s 70mm longer than Rio, has a ground clearance of just 183mm, and stands a petite 1,520mm in height. That’s just 70mm taller than Rio. Wheelbase is 2,580mm, the same as the Rio’s.

Kia’s design team have given the Stonic its own distinctive face, with Cerato-like LED blades in the slimmer than Rio’s headlight cluster. There’s more Cerato in the front bumpers outermost inserts, whilst there’s a bespoke chin plate that houses the driving lights and a grille for a forward reading sensor. LEDs power the rear lights either side of an easy to lift tailgate. This reveals a modestly sized boot at 352L, expanding to 1,155L, while the rear seats fold to an almost but not quite level pegging with the boot floor itself. Underneath the carpet is a space saver spare. Rolling on stylish 17 inch machined and painted alloys, Kia have opted for grippy Continental ContiSport rubber at 205/55 profile. Up front and it’s faux-leather bolsters on the cloth covered pews, a rough finish to the carbon-fibre look trim across the dash, and an otherwise Kia looking cabin with a glossier than expected upper dash. This, though, may be down to the prep work at the pick-up and drop-off location. The aircon is single, not dual zone, the controls are the basic button and dial type, which doesn’t shout range topping, but they are intuitive to use. The hard press buttons below the 8.0 inch touchscreen are the same, and the DAB tuner exhibited the same excess signal loss as experienced in other Kia and Hyundai cars.For the driver its the standard pair of analogue dials and 4.3 inch info screen as seen elsewhere in Kia’s cars, plus the slightly flat bottomed tiller complete with the tabs familiar to Kia drivers. The rear seats have a single USB port to access at the rear of the centre console, with one up front along with a pair of 12V sockets, and only the driver’s window is one touch up and down. There are heating elements for the Stonic’s wing mirrors, a handy touch for some areas.Safety-wise there is Kia’s overeager Lane Keep Assist, with its staccato audio warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Blind Spot Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Follow Assist are also standard. Rain sensing wipers and solar glass for the main screen and side windows ease the UV rays.Behind the scenes is Kia’s seven year warranty and capped price service scheme.

At The End Of The Drive. For what the Stonic is intended for, and intended to do, it does it well enough. Clearly aimed at younger buyers, and likely the DINK crowd, it lobs into a relatively newish segment but one already visited by the likes of Audi, VW, and Mazda.

There’s internal competition from Seltos, and from sister brand Hyundai’s Kona, and Venue. In its early days as an offering, it’s the well worn “only time will tell” in how it stands up and stands out in an increasingly crowded segment.

2021 Toyota Prius i-Tech: Private Fleet Car Review.

As Toyota did with the RAV4, by creating the SUV market, it also kickstarted the hybrid revolution with the Prius. Maligned for its looks then and now, it still remains on Toyota’s sales lists as a reminder of its part in history. Reduced to a two trim level, one model range, Prius and i-Tech. it had us wondering why Toyota continues with it considering: Yaris, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, and various Lexus options.The i-Tech is a whisker under $50K, with Toyota listing it as $49,966 drive-away with plain white paint. Go to the premium such as the metallic blue on the review car and that’s now $50,491. That’s a whopping $7,741 (white) more than the standard Prius and well over Corolla hybrid pricing, with Ascent Sport, the entry level, coming in at just under $31K, or the top of the range ZR, at around $38,500.Power is provided courtesy of a 1.8L Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with 72kW and 142Nm. Peak combined power is 90kW for the 1,400kg i-Tech. Fuel tank capacity is 43L, with economy rated at 3.4L/100km on a combined cycle, and one we matched. Drive is to the front wheels via a CVT, with drive itself selected by a simple to use flick lever in the centre of the dashboard.

Ignition is via push-button on and a set of screens that are centrally located on the upper dash welcome the passengers when the doors are opened. The screens include a daily usage and drive distance, and can be configured, with a little bit of research on how to, to display the costs per travel distance. The right had screen becomes the speedo, fuel gauge, trip meter and displays the economy figure also.

Audio is from JBL and there’s some great quality to be found here. Access is via a 7.0 inch touchscreen and it’s slightly different in look than that found in the rest of the Toyota family.Seats are leather, and heated. They’re comfortable is lacking some thigh support. Head, leg, and shoulder room are better than adequate for the driver and front passenger, with rear leg room a little squeezy. The actual colour scheme is dull, with a black on black scheme for the trim below the window line. The Prius i-tech gets a HUD or Head Up Display. It’s as intuitive as it comes to use and an item slowly becoming more common. Another item that is increasing in presence is a wireless charge pad.The body style is coupe’ like, and the rear hatch opens to a decent sized cargo area of 1,415L with the rear seats lowered. The load lip is low enough that access is easy enough for most people and the cargo area is broad enough for most families to deposit a week’s worth of groceries without issue. Safety is high with AEB, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Sport Alert, and Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian and Daylight Cyclists warning. Seven airbags also contribute to occupant safety. Servicing costs are found online.Outside there are fleeting moments of family recognition, particularly at the front, where the sharpish angles evoke the Corolla’s edgy styling. With just the one body now, as gone are the wagon and sedan, the five door hatch both harkens to the original, whilst bringing its own sort of sharp lined modernity, with definitive creaselines from front to rear.

The i-Tech has its own set of alloys, with aero-blade styling. Rubber is from Bridgestone’s Turanza range at 215/45/17 and they’re ample in grip.Where the Prius shines is in its around town performance. It is effortless, it is stress-free, and can be driven harder than one would anticipate.

Being a hybrid it can gently waft around, with a seamless, almost, transition, between battery and petrol. It’s been noted elsewhere that the drivetrain here has a subtle but noticeable clunk as the changes between power source happen, and we can confirm there is a minor jolt as the petrol engine kicks in or out. There are Power, Normal, and Eco drive modes, and for the most part, Normal is all that is required. power may be suitable for some country and uphill driving, and Eco great for flat track highways.Ride quality surprised as its got a sporting tune. This had us testing cornering speeds and roll. The Prius i-Tech is quite capable of getting antsy and will do so without qualms at a level highly unlikely to be seen by its target audience.

This brings us full circle to our starting point: who is the audience Toyota is looking for with the Prius?

At The End Of The Drive.

Toyota’s other hybrid offerings looking like “normal” cars; the Camry hybrid looks like a Camry, the Corolla hybrid looks like a Corolla, the Yaris and RAV4 hybrids look no different to their purely petrol fed siblings.

The Prius, though, is recognised as a Prius, the original eco-warrior, and that’s the only reason we can think of that it’s still offered by the Japanese car making giant. It delivers excellent fuel economy but isn’t that the point?

2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota is arguably the world’s leader when it comes to lobbing a hybridised drive-train into cars, and their small car, Yaris, has finally been given the treatment as seen in Camry, Corolla, and luxo-brand Lexus.The Yaris comes in three flavours, being Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, and in non-hybrid form starts at around $25,500 drive-away. That’s for the Ascent Sport in manual and plain white paint…. Go partly electric and there’s a need to head to the SX. There’s a price difference of $2,100 between the standard and hybrid, with the battery version seeing $32,545 on the sticker. ZR starts from $33,655 for the petrol, and the hybrid $35,715 in white. Our review car came with a red-orange colour known as Coral which takes it to $36,230. It’s worth noting that Toyota hiked the Yaris prices substantially in 2020, with the Ascent Sport copping an increase of $9,500…The engine is a three cylinder petrol jobbie, but unusual in that its a big’un. It’s a 1.5L unit, larger than the more common 1.0L to 1.2L powerplants found elsewhere. On its own it would be a more than respectable engine for Toyota’s smallest automobile. Fuel tank size is 36L, down from 40L, and 91RON is just fine. Economy is quoted as 3.3L/100km (combined cycle) for the Hybrid compared to 4.9L/100km from the standard 1.5L. Our 70/30 cycle saw 5.2L/100km from the 1,130kg (dry) ZR Yaris. Cargo is 270L minimum.As such, partnered with a battery system, the whole shebang delivers a total of 85 kW and 141 Nm to the front wheels via a CVT auto. The standard engine brings 88kW and 145Nm. Drive in the ZR is selected via a simple and straightforward in-line lever, complete with a B for Braking at the end of the selection line. This allows a driver to harness more of the kinetic energy that braking lets loose and channels it to the battery.ZR is ignited via a push-button, and there’s that eerie silence that hybrids and electric cars have, before a gentle accelerator push has the Yaris ZR Hybrid waft away quietly before the petrol engine kicks in. Toyota has configured this to play its part from either around 25kph on a gentle getaway, or, like all hybrids, straight away if the sensors read a heavy right foot. The 1.5L is noticeable but not intrusively so, and those that have drive three cylinder engined cars will appreciate that familiar off-kilter thrum upfront.There’s good initial speed, and the Yaris ZR Hybrid delights in both urban and freeway driving. Its quick, too, in rolling acceleration, with a definitive and solid urge to hustle as an when required. It hangs on nicely, with a finely tuned suspension dialling out all but the worst of the more common irregularities found in roads. A benign handling set-up sees minor understeer at suburban velocities, with long sweeping turns easily controlled by steering input or gentle braking.It’s well specified inside, with a HUD or Head Up Display taking pride of place. Toyota’s familiar and wonderfully user friendly touchscreen with voice recognition, Mobile Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Miracast and myToyota mans the upper centre of the dash, and a mix of grey shades add a touch of funkiness to the seats. However, it’s still a kind of budget car in a way, as the driver’s seat is fully manual in adjustment, and the cloth trim means no heating or venting. They are, however, bolstered for extra support.The driver’s dash display is a little unusual in look, with the centre recessed in and having only an info screen. The power/charge screen and speed are housed in two separate dials on the binnacle and well forward of the info screen. They’re digital in layout and look, and have a stylised font that’s eyecatching. They need to be as otherwise the dash is remarkably bland and dull. A single thin strand of red breaks up the solid black plastics, and that’s it. The airvent surrounds are a piano black, and contrast with the varying sages of grey on the seats and linings of the roof and doors.Outside it’s a different story, with that Coral colour highlighting the Yaris’ pear shape from roofline to wheelarches as seen from front or rear. The tail tucks in around the prominent lights, with a subtle pair of lines that joins them and the rear door handles. LED headlights show the way at night.

Simple black and machined alloys underpin the Yaris ZR Hybrid, with the 18 inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber at 185/55.No skimping on safety across the range either. Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert, eight airbags, and Intersection Turn Assistance are across the board. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are ZR bespoke. Servicing and warranty details are online.

At The End Of The Drive.

It’s a good drive but the price is an eyebrow raiser. Equipment levels are high to make up for it though, including the Head Up Display and eight airbags. Yaris is also heading Toyota’s push to bring sportiness back to the brand with the Gazoo Racing, GR, powerhouse versions. But, for the money, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Ford, VW, offer bigger vehicles and at not a whole lot worse economy.

Check out the 2021 Yaris here.

 

2021 Hyundai i30 Elite v 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The two cars, in hatchback form, that dominate the market for their sector. We were lucky enough to have the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and 2021 Hyundai i30 Elite side by side. Five door bodies, automatics, revvy four cylinder engines, and decent tech for the average family are hallmarks of both. However, one of the two is not like the other, in that the i30 range was given a refresh late in 2020, with the sedan now replacing the Elantra, with Toyota’s offering always having a sedan available.

We back-to-back the pair in a not quite but close apples for apples comparison. The Elite is close to the top of the i30 range, the Ascent Sport is the entry level to a three tier range from Toyota.

How Much Do They Cost?: In basic Glacier White and auto form the Ascent Sport starts from $29,380 with metallics a no cost option but $500 on SX and ZR. For our location, Hyundai’s website priced the i30 Elite auto at $33,830 in Polar White. Clad in Intense Blue, as was our test car, that goes to $34,340. Both cars are on a drive-away price schedule. Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine for the contender in the Korean corner, and a same sized engine for the Japanese contender. The Hyundai runs a traditional torque converter auto with six ratios, the Toyota a CVT with ten preprogrammed steps. Both drive the front wheels and each have manual shifting. Power for the Korean is 120kW and peak torque is 203Nm, with 6,200rpm and 4,700rpm the required figures. Corolla has 125kW and 200Nm, however Toyota don’t appear to list the rev points.The i30’s overall economy finished on a creditable 7.2L/100km. We saw a best of 6.0L/100km, a very good figure considering it was loaded with four passengers and a reasonable amount of boot space filled. Corolla’s average hovered between 6.0L to 6.5L per 100km in a more urban oriented drive. Tank for the Ascent Sport is 50.0L, matched by the i30. Both are 91RON and E10 compatible.

On The Inside It’s: Black leather for the i30, with perforated squabs but no venting nor heating. The Ascent Sport has black cloth as befits an entry level vehicle. Both have DAB audio and a point of difference here. The Toyota’s layout is simple and intuitive barring the fact it’s a black and white 8.0 inch screen. The Corolla has voice recognition, a bonus at an entry level.It’s much easier to use whereas the Hyundai’s updated screen, even with the appeal of colour and in the Elite it’s 10.25 inches, isn’t as intuitive. We also found the sensitivity of the Korean’s tuner to be less than the Corolla’s. Ascent Sport has satnav as an option and includes a USB port in Ascent Sport trim. Smart apps are standard in both.The dash design for each stamps their mark; the Corolla’s has barely changed in some years and features the somewhat heavy and intrusive triple wave design that intrudes into the kneespace of driver and passenger. The Hyundai’s design has space between the plastic and the knees and in the i30 it’s a simple, single line from side to side that incorporates the piano black surrounds for the aircon. The Hyundai’s gear selector feels it has a shorter throw and the springing in the Corolla isn’t as tight as the Elite’s.Both have auto, dusk sensing headlights, with the Elite’s higher spec level adding in rain sensing wipers. It’s a key start for the Ascent Sport, push button for the i30. The Elite also has a 12V socket up front with a wireless charging pad. The Corolla’s dash display has the speedo front and centre, with the full colour 4.3inch info screen on far right. The Elite has a full colour TFT 7.0 inch display, shared across all models.One notable difference between the two is the Corolla’s much discussed cargo section. It’s not a high loading lip however the cargo section’s floor is level with it, and underneath is the spare wheel and associated equipment. The i30’s floor is below the lip and seems further from the rear seats too, making for a more family friendly usage. Also, the i30’s boot area is home to the bass driver for the audio system. The Corolla has 217L to 333L, a figure much commented on since the revamps, with the Hyundai starting from 395L and moving to 1,301L with the second row folded. Both have a full sized spare.994mm and 977mm are the head room front and rear measurements for the i30, 1073mm and 883mm leg room, with 1,427mm and 1,406mm shoulder room. The Toyota spec sheet doesn’t list them.

On The Outside It’s: A mild but noticeable update for the i30. Up front is a set of driving lights that have have expanded from a simple strip of LEDs to a more assertive looking set of triangular LEDs that fill out the insert, and double as indicators. The grille has morphed and moved to a broader design, and has a more flamboyant fan shaped styling. The rear lights have a slight restyle to match the very mild changes to the front lights.

Corolla was given its own do-over in 2018. It’s broader, sharper edged, and lower than the more bluff and upright standing i30. The flanks are more organic, curved, than the straight sides of the i30, and the rear has a more pronounced slope than its Korean counterpart. The LED DRLs are far more inboard and set inside the narrow headlight cluster.There’s notable differences between these two however there are similarities to other brands. The VW Golf is more akin to the squat and bluff i30, Subaru’s laid back Impreza hatch is closer to the Corolla.

i30’s length is 4,340mm, and stands 1,455mm tall. Width is 1,795mm and wheelbase is a decent 2,650mm. Corolla is 4375mm in length, with a 2640mm wheelbase. Height and width are 1,435mm and 1,790mm.

On The Road It’s: A definite difference in feeling. The Corolla’s steering is light in comparison to the i30 Elite’s but it’s also more twitchy. The Hyundai has some real weight, and it’s subtly but noticeably more front wheel drive. The lightness of the Ascent Sport means one can comfortably pootle around town with only one hand on the tiller but that twitchiness then demands both hands be in contact. The i30’s has a need for both, particularly because of the over-enthusiastic lane keep assist function. The Corolla’s is noticeable but nowhere near as “grabby”, a complaint well recognised about the Korean. The i30’s suspension is more sporting in tune, with the 225/45/17 Hankook Ventus Prime rubber gripping hard and well, and providing a little bit of absorption from the smaller sidewalls. The Ascent Sport has 205/55/16s from Dunlop’s Enasave range and the higher sideall is certainly noticeable in ride absorption. It also flexes just enough to put a bit of Sport into the Ascent Sport name. Highway and freeway ride quality certainly had the Ascent Sport in a slightly more wallowly mood, not quite as tied down nor quick to dampen, as the i30. In contrast, the i30 was a bit more bang thump.The i30 had a minor glitch in the engine under load. On the flat and and on uphill acceleration, there was a momentary “pinging”, a stutter in the otherwise smooth pull of the 2.0L. It has to be noted that we’ve not experienced anything like this in a modern car and Hyundai’s garage was made aware of it. The auto is smooth in changing and the electronics work with the throttle input and engine’s revs perfectly. Using the manual shift option makes fractionally quicker changes.For the CVT in the Ascent Sport, if a quick getaway is the required situation, manual shifting works wonders. There’s minor “slurring” on the changes but it’s preferable to the unenergetic normal sensation from the CVT on gentle to medium acceleration. A harder and heavier pedal extracts more from the 2.0L and CVT and even brings in mild torque-steer.

Braking in both is courtesy of well balanced, well modulated, discs front and rear. The pedal in the i30 has a heavier feel and in context matches the steering. The Corolla’s is lighter but not without feel. It’s also slightly quicker in the ratio, but not by much.

What About Safety?: Hyundai doesn’t skimp on the i30, with Blind Spot Collision, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Safe Exit warning missing only from the base i30 and Active. Otherwise the Safety Sense package adds in Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian/Cyclist (camera & radar), Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist-Line.

Corolla matches this with Lane Trace Assist for the CVT equipped Ascent Sport, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection plus Road Sign Assist. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic, like an entry level i30, is missing in the Ascent Sport. Both load up seven airbags including a kneebag for the driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Toyota has a VIN based service structure online. Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres. That’s the same for the i30 and Hyundai also uses a VIN based service quote system.

At The End Of The Drive. In honesty, there really isn’t a lot between them, even looking at putting the SX in the place of the Ascent Sport. It would be convenience factors such as the charge pad perhaps, the extra clearance of the dash in the i30 over the Corolla’s design, and the brilliant screen for the driver in the i30 against the slightly better economy in the Corolla and the more user friendly interface on the touchscreen.The driving experience is a user dependent one; for us the i30’s ride tune was preferable, however there is no doubt that the softer and more comfortable tune of the Corolla Ascent Sport has its adherents. There’s also that legendary Toyota sense of being bullet-proof and infallible. In essence, the gap isn’t as big as it could have been.

2021 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A update to a member of the always popular Swift range. The GLX Turbo, in this case, gets a little extra equipment as part of the Series 2 refresh. For now, it’s also the top of the three tier range as the Suzuki Swift Sport takes a hiatus.How Much Does It Cost?: $25,410 drive-away is what you’ll see as a sticker price. That’s up from the Series 1 price of $22,990 two years ago.

Under The Bonnet Is?: A perky 1.0 litre three cylinder engine, which is good for 82kW and 160Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm.Transmission is a six speed auto only sadly, and it feels a bit like a dual clutch, but isn’t.

Fuel capacity is 37.0L, with consumption, says Suzuki at 5.1L/100km on the combined cycle. We averaged 6.6L/100km on our 70/30 split.

On The Outside It’s: A mix of 16-inch alloys (common across the three models), dusk-sensing LED headlights, reversing camera, and a body shape that lacks the sharper edged look of the previous model. The headlight design became more of an amorphous blob in the redesign a couple of years ago, whilst the rear lights followed the lead of Baleno and became smaller but stood out and away from the body.

A visual clue for the change from Series 1 to Series 2 update is a chrome bar running horizontally in the grille. The alloys also have been changed slightly.

On The Inside It’s: Featuring cruise control, cloth on the seats, and a reach & rake adjustable steering wheel column. The 7.0 inch touchscreen is the same four quarter starting look seen across the Suzuki family, with no DAB in the audio system. There are smartphone apps though, and the GLX gets an extra pair of speakers over the Navigator and Navigator Plus, making for six all up. For the driver, a 4.3 inch full colour screen shows varying sorts of info, including fuel consumption, speed, and a g-force meter for good measure.Suzuki have always managed to package a small car well, so there’s adequate head and leg room for most, however the sheer size of the Swift means boot space is on the small side at 265L, moving to 576L with seats folded.What About Safety?: A substantial increase for the Series 2. AEB is now standard and works over a broader velocity range. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are now standard. Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning are backed up by six airbags and the usual ABS and stability controls.

On The Road It’s: Point and squirt in nature. The three cylinder doesn’t take much to spool up and get the Swift GLX Turbo humming. The transmission hooks up quickly, taking the torque of the little engine that can, translating it quickly and easily to drive. It’s smooth, slick, efficient, and the engine revels in being a free-spinner.

The transmission selector has a hiccup in its design though. It’s s straight through selector, from Park to Drive, and then Manual. There isn’t a lockout or a sideways move to engage, meaning more than once Manual was inadvertently selected and we’re left wondering momentarily why the gears hadn’t changed.The suspension is typical for a small car. There’s very little real suspension travel, having the Swift GLX Turbo bottoming out on the bumpstops too easily. There is barely enough compliance for a truly comfortable ride, with the shock absorbers tuned to dial out the pogo style up and down on undulations more so than “normal” road conditions.

Twirl the steering wheel and there’s enough resistance to provide a sense of sportiness at low speed, and it lightens up, but not too much at freeway velocities. Same for the brakes, as the GLX Turbo has discs all around rather than disc and drum. The pedal has just the right amount of pushback and feedback for the size of the car.What About Warranty And Service?: The Suzuki website has a page where an owner can submit their car’s build details. The Swift Sport comes with a five tear warranty, and with unlimited kilometres. They’ll cover commercial applications such as ride share for up to 160,000 kilometres.

Servicing is 12 monthly or 10,000 kilometres for turbo cars, and Suzuki have capped price servicing for five years or 100,000 kilometres. The first service is $239, followed by $329, $239, $429 then $239.

At The End Of The Drive. In comparison, we drove the Suzuki Sport in mid 2020, and you can see that here.
The GLX Turbo really isn’t that different in spirit and nature, so it remains to be seen if the Swift Sport itself will return in some way. For now though, the 2021 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo is the current king of the castle in the Swift family.

2021 Kia Picanto S Manual: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The baby of the current Kia range, Picanto. A pert five door hatch, Picanto is available in either S or GT-Line specification. It’s also one of the cheapest new cars currently available to buy in Australia.How Much Does It Cost?: Kia has the Picanto S, in manual transmission and 1.2L engine spec, at $16,990 and in non-metallic Clear White. The specification sheet supplied by Kia says there are no options available aside from the exterior colours such as Sparkling Silver, Honey Bee Yellow, or Aurora Black Pearl at $595.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.25L petrol four and a five speed manual in the review vehicle. There is an auto available with just four ratios available. That engine is the only option with the turbo 3 cylinder reserved for the Rio GT-Line. Peak power is 62kW (6,000rpm) and peak torque is 122Nm at 4,000rpm. Economy is a strong part of the Picanto’s appeal, with a combined figure of 5.0L/100km (manual) from the 35.0L fuel thimble. Our final overall average was a very creditable 6.0L/100km with a best of 4.4L/100km seen.On The Outside It’s: Not as visually appealing as the GT-Line. The Picanto S has a wheel and tyre package of 175/65/16 with steel wheels and plastic covers. The front bumper has halogen driving lights that come on with the ignition, with the bumper jutting forward from the headlights and tiger nose grille. There are no LEDs here, it’s pure old-tech front and rear on the slightly boxy body. The Clear White emphasises the more cubic shape of the Picanto when it’s sans GT-Line enhancements.On The Inside It’s: Dominated by the now ubiquitous stand alone touchscreen. At 8.0 inches in size it’s well amongst the standard sizes and features smartapp compatibility. Both Apple and Android are wireless and have voice recognition. Sound is good without being muddy. There is also a USB and 3.5mm socket in the lower front centre console.

The driver’s display is also familiar with a 4.2 inch colour display and analogue dials. An intriguing feature is the screen rolls lines upwards as the vehicle moves along and the driver changes gears.

Plastics throughout tend to the hard side; there is no soft touch on the binnacle, console, door tops, to add a touch of comfort. The upper section of the cabin is trimmed in a light grey material to counterbalance the largely black lower section.Seats are cloth covered, manually operated, and comfortable enough for the Picanto’s natural home, short suburban runs. Front seat leg and head room is adequate, as is rears eat head room, but taller people will find the rear pew a little claustrophobic. And nominally a five seater, the rear seat is not suitable for three adults. Luggage space echoes this at 255L (seats up) with 1,010L available with seats folded.On The Road It’s: Suitable for purpose. The 1.2L engine is by no means a firecracker, with alacrity not a word in its dictionary. That may sound harsh as even with four aboard, it pulls well enough although noticeably blunted compared to having just the driver aboard. Even with the free-spinning engine being wound up, it’s enough for moderate acceleration only. It also makes it a questionable choice as being the only engine option for the GT-Line version.

We’ve noted previously the soft springing for the clutch and gear selector; there is little to no weight in the lever and a very gentle one finger movement is enough to see the first to second to third and so on happen. The clutch is the same, there is no real pressure here at all. However, there is an upside to this and it’s that the Picanto S manual slots into the space needed for a learner driver.

It’s ideal for a new driver because that combination of soft clutch and lever won’t be intimidating and the pairing make for the ideal training mechanism. This applies to the somewhat woolly steering and soft suspension setup. The Picanto S bottoms out easily to the bumpstops, meaning some serious speed reduction or driver planning is required to lessen the bang thump. The miniscule disc and drum brake combo do a decent job of hauling up the petite Picanto, and work great with the down-changing of the gears coming to a set of lights or a stop sign.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning is standard, however there is no Blind Spot Warning, Lane Keep Assist, or Rear Cross Traffic Alert. These may seem a major omission however it brings back to the driver their responsibility to not be trained to rely on electronic aids.

What About Warranty And Service?: The standard seven years warranty and capped price servicing applies. Total cost over the seven years is $2,806, for an average cost of $400 per year or just $7.70 per week. Years two, four, and six are where the costs climb higher than the others.At The End Of The Drive. For less than $18K (with metallic paint) the Picanto S manual is ideally priced to be a first new car or a supplementary car. It’s a city car, a suburban car, and fulfills this design brief perfectly. It’s comfortable enough for the city environment, has the basics at a suitable level for tech and entertainment, and provides a reasonable ride and handling package. It’s the sort of vehicle that, when expectations aren’t of a super level, it meets those expectations perfectly.

2020 Kia Rio GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s second smallest car, complete with attitude and spunk. It’s a bit like “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Complete with a three cylinder engine and DCT, plus some body add-ons, and in the review car’s case, an eye-catching Mighty Yellow paint, how much fight is in this pint size warrior wannabe?How Much Does It Cost?: $24,490 drive-away plus $520 for premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: A relatively tiny 1.0L three cylinder with the Hyundai/Kia Smartstream label. But don’t think it’s too small for the Rio. 74kW and 172Nm (1,500 to 4,000rpm) combine to foist upon the 1,197kg (dry) machine enough pizzazz and spriteliness to provide enough of a grin factor when the car is driven…ahem…appropriately.It’s cheap to run as well; our worst was 7.0L/100km, with a best of 4.1L/100, with a final average of 6.2L/100km. Tank size is 45L worth for regular unleaded. None of those figures are far from Kia’s official figures of 5.3L/6.3L/4.8L per 100km on the combined/urban, and highway drives. And not that many would, but towing is rated as 1,000kg. Transmission is a seven ratio Dual Clutch Transmission.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged for the past couple of years. It sits nicely in the compact class at 4,070mm in length although it looks smaller. It’s 1,450mm high, and 1,725mm wide, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,580mm.

That means it’s a stubby little thing with short overhangs, and slightly cubical when seen from either end directly. In profile the A-pillars have a slope that matches the rear pillar, bringing some visual balance to the main body.

Driving lights are the four-cube set, cast to either end of the front bar and in an enclosure limned in black that reaches out but doesn’t quite meet a slim air intake sitting under the main slimline tiger-nose. This is echoed with a mirror set in the rear bumper that has a pair of reflectors.

Wheels are 16 spoke 17 inch alloys with dark grey highlights, shod in Continental Contisport Contact rubber at 205/45.On The Inside It’s: Quite sparsely trimmed. The seats are a black cloth with white stitched leather bolstering, white piping, and fully manually adjustable. No electronics at all. Pedals are alloy, and a carbon-fibre look inlay runs full length across the dash. Otherwise, plastics are a bit low-rent to look at and touch aside from the piano black for the air vent, touchscreen, and drive selector surrounds.

Driver’s dials are analogue with the familiar 4.2 inch info cluster. Here is where a digital screen would have been a nice step up. Aircon controls are basic yet idiot-proof dials and push-buttons, sitting over a 12V & USB port. A sole USB port sits at the end of the small centre console. The main touchscreen is an 8.0 inch unit in glorious monochrome, featuring AM, FM, and Bluetooth along with Android and Apple compatibility.Convenience features run to bottle holders in each door, a pair of console cup holders, and rain sensing wipers. No airvents for the rear seaters though… Luggage space is 325L to 980L, with the second row seats folding but not level with the boot floor. That’s not quite enough for a weekly shop for a family of four, but then, the Rio GT-Line probably wouldn’t be in a driveway for that demographic.

Solar or UV blocking glass is standard for the GT’s front three windows, with privacy glass for the rears. A drive mode tab is placed up towards the drive selector, with Eco, Normal, and Sport the choices. There’s a sporting hint with the now familiar flat bottomed tiller. Packaging overall is good thanks to the slightly boxy body shape.

On The Road It’s: Much better in Normal mode than Eco. There’s more life, lighter steering, whereas Eco drags the Rio GT-Line into the mud and everything feels heavier and slower. Sport mode adds extra zip and especially in the mid-range of the engine’s torque delivery. In Eco, the steering has a feel of the front tyres being deflated. Switch to Normal and it lightens up just enough to feel…well…normal.

The seven speed DCT isn’t one of the better of its type, nor is it one of the worst. The clutch gaps aren’t as bad as it has been, with stop then start driving feeling more intuitive and natural. And safer. It also makes for normal and sportier driving a much more enjoyable experience, as changes are sharper, crisper, and more efficiently translating into getting the Rio percolating.

Engage Sport and it’s even swifter, however switching to manual changing (no paddle shifters either, by the way) and there’s a hint more speed in the cogs swapping. Under a gentle foot there is also the audible changes for the gears, with the three cylinder thrum that is so characteristic of these engines running up and down in the revs as the clutch disengages and re-engages for the next ratio. Some DCTs take time to warm up and perform at their best, Kia’s is somewhere between that and being ready to go from the get-go.Ride quality is where the Rio GT-Line varies. It’s too hard sometimes, with little travel and tyre absorption. There’s just that little bit too much bang-crash on some road surfaces, but in contrast nicely dials out any float, with zero rebound on those wallowy surfaces. There is ample grip from the Continental rubber too, making cornering at increasing speed a simple proposition, alongside easy lane changing.

Hit a flat road and it’s ideal, feeling tied to the tarmac, and it’s on this kind of surface where the GT part of GT-Line pays off. Ditto for the engine as that broad swathe of torque effortlessly pulls the GT-Line along. The steering is almost ideally weighted, with little effort needed to switch lanes. Road noise is noticeable but not to the point that cabin conversations feel intruded upon.

What was apparent, too, was the rate of rolling acceleration. Where a merge road goes from 80 to 100 or 110, a change of pace, rapidly, is needed. Here the Rio GT-Line shows appreciable agility without being a neck-snapper, with decent forward progress. It’s perhaps where the 1.2L three with more torque would be a better fit for the name GT-Line.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist. Six airbags, and the mandated assorted electronic driver aids are standard.

What About Warranty And Service?: Kia’s standard seven year warranty applies. Total service costs across the seven years is $3,299. That’s an average cost per year of $471 or just nine dollars per week. As is the norm, it’s service four for the big ticket cost at $704, with year five under half that at $319. Year six and seven see $602 and $569.

At The End Of The Drive. Kia’s Rio GT-Line isn’t aimed at the hot hatch market. It’s not aimed at the warm hatch market. It’s aimed at those that want a semblance of performance combined with user friendly economy figures and no need for anything bigger. It’s an ideal first car for the new driver as it’s not excessively endowed with snap/crackle/pop BUT there is enough to provide the appropriate grin factor.

As such, the Kia Rio GT-Line offers up a decent amount of fight however those looking for something with more spice will look elsewhere. That’s no shade on the GT-Line, by the way. It’s intended to be what it is and it fulfills that particular brief perfectly. Check it out, here.