Kia Rio X - The hatchback that wants to go off-road

Kia is expanding its gravel travel hatchback range, with a new Rio derivative.

Reacting to customer preference and stable demand for conventional hatchbacks with pseudo-SUV styling elements, this new release from Kia is called the Rio X.

It uses the same GB platform, like all other Rios, but there have been significant updates to the hatchback’s bumpers and lights in this new X-specification.

With reshaped front and rear contact points, the Rio X is 170 mm longer than a conventional Rio hatchback. The extra length is credited to its bumper design.

The car’s front styling also features a dramatic new headlight design, with a spur line that runs into the bumper.

Around the wheel arches and along the lower door sills, Kia has added black plastic cladding, to preserve the bodywork and reduce stone chip damage. At the rear, there are two new aero ducts, at each corner.

Despite not marketing it locally, the Rio X would have outstanding applicability to the South African market. Engineers at Kia have managed to stretch its wheelbase by 20 mm, which means it should have slightly better ride quality and stability on dirt roads.

Perhaps even more impressive is its 195 mm ground clearance. That is enough to allow this Kia to roll through the worst of potholes and navigate gravel trails with a significant centre-mound. As a basis for comparison, Toyota's Rav4 has 213mm of ground clearance. 

Although Kia has not confirmed powertrain specifications for its Rio X, the logical association is that it should feature the company’s 1.4- and 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines. Options that are graded for 75 kW and 92 kW, respectively.

The Kia Rio X is being produced in Russia and primarily targeted at buyers there, but as a product concept, it would also make a great deal of sense for South African conditions.

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