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The GT-Line is certainly more distinct than a vanilla Rio, thanks to its chrome tiger-nose grille up front, twin exhaust tips and roof spoiler, as well as model-unique 17in alloys.
These aren’t transformative changes, however, and the five-door Rio just doesn’t look quite as purposeful as the three-door Fiesta ST-Line. It’s certainly more practical, with more boot space and a rear seat bench that can accommodate adults in reasonable comfort, although these features are unlikely to be priorities with the GT-Line’s younger target audience.
The interior goes some way to redress that balance, with carbonfibre trim on the dashboard, aluminium pedals and a three-spoke leather steering wheel giving a more sporty impression. It all looks more high-end than in a standard Rio, but the materials used aren’t quite up to the standard of the European competition.
The half-faux leather seats have the same stiff bolsters as the regular Rio’s and provide the same relaxed, relatively low-slung driving position, which suits the GT-Line well.
This trim level comes well equipped with a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rear-view camera, lane departure warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking.
Sat-nav is only available on the £1500-more-expensive GT-Line S trim, which also adds automatic climate control, rear LED lights, autonomous emergency braking and blindspot detection. As ever with Kia, there’s no mixing and matching with options and extras.
The GT-Line’s thrummy turbocharged three-pot is entertaining enough about town, delivering its boost early but encouraging you to keep the revs up to around 4000rpm. Push further still and it becomes strained, though, with a noise that lacks the character of some rivals.
The Rio’s light handling doesn’t really engage when pushed, either. Things tighten up at higher speeds for assured steering, but there’s little feedback – certainly not to the extent that actively encourages exploring the small car’s limits. It doesn’t hunker down in high-speed corners or sharpen up in places where the competition would otherwise come alive.
It rides well enough for its class, at least, absorbing bumps smoothly, even on 17in wheels.