Chevrolet Aveo5 1.4, Kia Rio 1.4 5dr Review
Cheap Skates

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
15 Apr 2010

Cheap and decent are hard to come by at today's COE prices. We compare two of the most decent and relatively painless to buy Korean compact hatchbacks.

Hatching up

The first thing you probably said when you came upon this twin test was "How to buy any of these cars? The COE price is probably more expensive than the car themselves!" Well, yes, current COE prices could possibly as high as the cost price of the Chevrolet Aveo5 and facelifted Kia Rio tested here but it doesn't mean that one shouldn't buy either if one needs a no frills, budget runabout.

Budget priced compact hatchbacks don't come more decent than these two. Yes, everyone wants a Jazz or a Polo but not all have pockets deep enough to buy during this COE frenzy. Both the Rio and Aveo5 are competent enough as lesser and cheaper alternatives to the likes of the Jazz and Polo. But which of the two Koreans is the more convincing car then?

Both the Aveo5 and the Rio have been around for a while now. While the Aveo5 was given a thorough refresh a couple of years back, the Rio gets its update only recently.

The current generation Rio first appeared almost five years ago, which is an eternity when it comes to a car's product cycle. The recent refresh endowed the Rio with Kia's rather well received Schreyer grille. Unlike the facelifted Magentis, the trademark Schreyer grille and nose treatment don't look as convincing on the smaller facelifted Rio.

Make no mistake, ex-Audi man Peter Schreyer has done a brilliant job with Kia's new corporate look - just look at the Forte Koup, the upcoming new generation Sportage and Magentis and one will appreciate his brilliance. The Rio though was conceived way before Schreyer started to work his magic wand at Kia. Part of the facelift was to graft on the new Kia corporate face onto the existing Rio and the overall look and styling somehow aren't as cohesive or smooth flowing as those models that Schreyer designed from the ground up.

The Rio is not ungainly or disproportionate by any means but it just doesn't look as contemporary or current like the newer Kia models despite the new nose with the grille, darkened head and tail lamps and new front bumper, the body coloured side mouldings, new fog lamps and dummy rear diffuser.

With its taller and more upright stance, the Aveo5 doesn't look as squat and purposeful as the Rio here. Despite its more familiar looks, the Aveo5 looks more distinctive than the supposedly more contemporary looking Rio when viewed from the front thanks to the double radiator grille treatment with Chevrolet's bow tie emblem sitting in between the two openings. The Aveo5's upswept headlamps also contribute to give the Chevy a more distinctive face but why on earth did the designers put a non-functional ‘power vent' along the flanks when the Aveo5 shouldn't have much sporting pretensions?


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