The Rio is in its fourth generation, originally launching in 2001
Ford Fiesta rival is the latest supermini to bow out as buyers flock to crossovers
The Kia Rio supermini will exit the UK market later this year – and it is not due to receive a direct replacement.
The European-spec Rio, which is produced at Kia’s Sohari factory in South Korea, will no longer be shipped to the UK nor other European markets, with the higher-riding (but closely related) Kia Stonic crossover lined up to serve as an alternative for buyers in the supermini segment.
The Rio is currently in its fourth generation and 148,000 examples have been delivered to customers since it first went on sale in 2001. It is currently available from £16,150 with a choice of 1.2-litre petrol and 1.0-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid engines. However, new cars are available from dealer stock only, as Kia winds down European deliveries.
The supermini has struggled in European sales charts in recent years, with 32,506 Rios sold in 2022, representing a 9% drop on 2021 figures, according to Jato Dynamics. Its direct rival, the Vauxhall Corsa, sold 164,119 units in the same period.
Meanwhile, UK sales figures seen by Autocar show that the Rio accounted for just 3800 of the 90,000-plus cars Kia sold here in 2021 – the most recent full year for which figures are available. It is not expected to have contributed significantly to Kia’s UK record year in 2022, when the brand sold more than 100,000 cars for the first time, 6076 of which were Stonics.
The Korean manufacturer, which turns 80 next year, suggested that the continued trend towards compact crossovers resulted in a drop in demand for the low-slung Rio.
The firm also said: “Aside from Rio development, Kia remains fully committed to the ‘small car’ A- and B-segments.” Its current A-segment car is the Toyota Aygo X-rivalling Kia Picanto, which accounted for 10% of the company’s overall UK sales in 2022 and was the UK’s third best-selling A-segment car that year.
Kia would not give a specific date for the end of Rio production but it is not expected to import any more examples to the UK.
The Rio is one of several superminis retiring in Europe as tighter emissions rules take hold and buyers migrate to taller SUVs with similar footprints. The Ford Fiesta’s demise is the headline of 2023, with the Ford Puma poised to take its place as the entry point into the Ford line-up.
The future of the B-segment Volkswagen Polo has also been brought into question, owing to Euro 7 emissions rules adding as much as €5000 (£4445) to the cost of producing a small car, according to VW boss Thomas Schäfer.