The 2013 Kia Rio draws its design inspiration from Europe, not Korea. That's a relatively recent development, recent since the arrival of a new design director to the South Korean automaker. The bubbly, bland shapes of the former models have been ditched, and Peter Schreyer, Kia's new head of design, has penned a new range of cars with crisp, well-proportioned looks clearly influenced by cars from Peugeot, Opel, and Ford.
The Rio's a prime example, and the five-door's even more clearly descended from that talent pool than the four-door sedan. From the signature grille and its swept-back headlights, to the rounded rear end, the Rio five-door echoes classic hot-hatch lines without exaggerating them. It's clean, perky, and interesting, for the first time in the brand's history. And while it's tough to draw sedans on this scale, but the Rio succeeds better than just about any of its competitors.
It's even better inside. The cockpit's nicely finished dash hashes together 1980s econobox chic with airplane-style toggle switches, a medium-to-large LCD screen and a soft-touch panel on most trims for a distinct look with BMW outlines and glory-days Honda finishes.