I went so far back in time with the Kia Rio DC that Dina Vass – The Love I Have For You suddenly started to play. But do I have any love or even sympathy for the first Rio?

Kia Rio DC is theoretically and literally a car from the past millennium. It’s production stopped the same year Facebook launched. Kia Rio DC is much older than most of Mr. Beast’s fans. Worse than that, it is built in conjunction with Hyundai Accident, because that only begins to happen at the next degeneration.

So what do we have here?

Here we have Kia’s own attempt at building an almost car. We were in 1999, when shipping containers with Daewoo, Kia, Hyundai came to Europe from Korea and they were all very close in terms of quality and pricing. The problem was that the Daewoo Cielo + Daewoo Espero combo also came at around the same time and they kind of stole the show from Kia and Hyundai. The Cielo was a rebodied Opel Kadett, so a car with semi-European origins, and the Espero was already above the Kia Rio. Furthermore, Daewoos from this period used old Opel-sourced engines.

Despite all oods however it seems that the Kia Rio had the last word. Not having the deadly reliability issues like those in the Daewoo garden, Kia Rio DC survived and survives today on the streets of our Little Britain. Exceptionally resistant to rust and with cheap but sturdy interiors, the Kia Rio DC managed to bury all its competition. Kia Rio DC – the Nikita Khrushchev of the automotive world.

It also came with Mazda engines bought under license, used extensively on the Mazda 323 and which have proven their reliability in time. And it also came in a wagon / hearse version. And optionally you had available a 4-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. Of course, it doesn’t transform overnight like Adele but it remains an excellent car in the 300 pounds or less market.

Kia Rio DC Engines


  • 1.3 MPI B3 of 75 and 80 horsepower – We start out in full force, namely with the first petrol available (the only one actually), the mighty 1.3 litre 75 horsepower juggernaut.
  • 1.5 MPI B5 of 98 and 108 horsepower – And the march continues towards the second available petrol engine, which is actually the same 1.3 unit, only a little bigger. And when I say march I say it because it’s an old-fashioned Japanese engine, and in loose translation it means that the engine only works at high revs. If you intend on civilised driving, you will feel that the engine is more gutless than an ASMR youtuber. And if you start revving it then it will start burning oil. Besides that, you also have to take care of the spark plugs and the timing chain, which can wear out prematurely.
  • 1.6 MPI B6 of 104 horsepower – Naturally the americans got the biggest engine available on the Rio DC and it’s a mighty 1.6 litre 4 cylinder petrol. It’s part of the same Mazda-sourced family so it still requires revs and oil but altogether an simple and sturdy engine.

Kio Rio DC Common Issues

  • You wouldn’t think that a car such as this could have electrical issues, but they exist. Notable highlights are the brake lights, headlights, door locks and instruments panel.
  • Having all these mighty, sporty Mazda-sourced engines translates into the suspension not being the last word in terms of comfort. And neither is the interior. Between the suspension and the interior however I don’t know which one uses grayer, squishier and cheaper plastic.
  • It’s a car that costs 300 pounds or less in exceptional condition, so you’ll usually buy what’s left of a Kia Rio DC.

Kia Rio DC Verdict

It’s an old-fashioned Hyundai and Kia car, reminiscent of any Korean car from the 2000s to be honest. Times when these cars were more like washing machines on wheels, bought only by those who wanted the absolute cheapest new car on the market. And then they ended up with a rather pleasant surprise. I’m not saying that the first Rio broke the market’s back, but for the simple fact that you can still find them for sale, mainly functional and without rust, that says enough about the Kia Rio DC.

Which engines do I recommend? Which one you can find in decent condition, basically. Because all of them are actually different versions of the same engine. Don’t forget to take the oil barrel with you.