Hatchback Rivals: Mazda 2 vs Kia Rio
We’re pretty spoiled for choice these days when it comes to hatchbacks. These small cars have been a staple of European motoring for decades, but in Australia, we’ve tended to favour the bigger sedans, wagons and 4x4s. But, they’ve definitely been steadily gaining popularity as engine technology and other features have improved, making them just as viable an option for most drivers as many larger cars.
There are now many models to choose from, including the Kia Cerato, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo and Suzuki Swift. In this blog though, we’re going to be comparing the 2022 Mazda 2 and Kia Rio, as they offer similar features at a comparable price point.
It’s worth keeping in mind throughout this blog that the Mazda2 is offered in the G15 Pure, G15 Pure SP, G15 Evolve and G15 GT options, while the Kia Rio comes in the Rio S, Rio Sport and Rio GT-Line models. We’ll be taking more of a broader look at the Mazda and Kia but it should be pointed out that there are some variations among models.
They’re both pretty good looking little hatchbacks. The Mazda 2 arguably has the sleeker look with its long, tapered headlight housings and flowing curves. It features a luxe front grille which houses the Mazda emblem and the number plate. On the other hand, the Rio offers a slightly more aggressive look with its geometric front end and squarer body shape. And while the Mazda2 comes with LED headlights, the Rio is only equipped with standard halogen bulbs.
Looking at the sides, the Mazda2 and Kia Rio both come with 16-inch wheels for their respective top-of-the-line models. However, the entry-level Rio comes with a set of 15-inch wheels instead.
The Mazda and the Kia take different approaches when it comes to the interior design, particularly when it comes to the dashboard features. The Mazda has gone for the sleek and simplistic approach, with a really nice clean dashboard surface that extends from the driver display right to the other side of the passenger, bookended by simple round air vents. It is only interrupted by a 7.0 inch screen that controls the car’s entertainment system. Meanwhile, in front of the driver is a single speedometer with supporting digital displays on either side.
The Kia, on the other hand, has opted for more of a ‘cockpit’ style interior with its infotainment system taking up the bulk of the dashboard space, guarded by honeycomb air conditioner vents on either side. This gives the driver more of an enclosed feeling, surrounded by gadgets and control systems. Meanwhile, the driver has both a speedometer and tachometer to look at while driving. Overall, this creates a much busier environment for the driver.
Both cars are equipped with comfy fabric seats, and both have Apple Carplay and Android Auto, making for a very pleasant driving experience either way.
Power and Handling
The great thing about hatchbacks is that their small four-cylinder engines love to be revved which makes for an enjoyable driving experience. This hasn’t changed with either the Mazda 2 or the Kia Rio.
All Rio models come with a 74kW, 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, except the top of the range Kia Rio GT-Line option which has a 1-litre three-cylinder engine that has the same power. In all the 1.4-litre models, the power is transferred to the front wheels via a 6-speed auto or manual gearbox while the GT-Line comes with an impressive 7-speed auto transmission.
The Mazda boasts a slightly bigger engine with a bit more grunt. Its 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine puts out a stirring 82kW which is a bit of a step up considering it’s only ever so slightly larger an engine.
Like in the Kia, this power is sent to the front wheels via 6-speed auto transmission in all models. The Mazda G15 Pure comes in a manual model, which offers a more connected driving experience.
As with many new cars, both the Kia and the Mazda are fantastically feature-rich. The bargain basement days of four wheels and a radio are very much a thing of the past, as manufacturers compete to pack in as many features as possible at a reasonable price.
Both cars have standard features such as electric power steering, air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, cruise control, and keyless entry. Both have the wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto systems that allow for mobile integration to run the entertainment system.
Overall though, the Mazda has a bit more packed into it with additional features such as keyless start, automatic climate control, boot light, and additional cup and bottle holders in the back.
Both cars are pretty much on par in terms of safety, with each having a 5-star safety rating which is pretty much standard among new cars. They both have safety features that include dual front airbags, curtin airbags and side airbags. They also have anti-lock braking, traction control, brake assist, vehicle stability control systems as well as various driver assist features like lane departure and forward collision warning.
The Mazda 2 vs Kia Rio comparison ultimately comes down to power and features. They’re both excellent cars to drive, but the standard equipment that you get in the Mazda far outweighs what you get with the Kia. Plus it’s hard to ignore the extra power at the disposal of your right foot.
The Mazda 2 comes at a slightly higher price, starting at $21,190 compared with the Kia at $19,690 drive-away, but you get a lot more for just a little extra money. They both represent excellent value, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with either, but for a little hatchback, the Mazda 2 is punching well above its weight.