Words and photos by Niky Tamayo
The very first media test unit I ever drove was a Kia Rio back in 2006. It was a taxi-spec Kia Rio, in white. The only luxuries were air-conditioning, power-steering, and a radio. It had wind-up windows, hubcaps, and a price-tag not much higher than a Kia Picanto. Despite the low price, not many buyers bit. The spartan interior and lack of toys meant that it was more popular with taxi services than private buyers. And even then, taxi services often went for the 1.5 liter diesel Accent over the 1.4 liter gasoline Rio.
With the new-model roll-over, Kia reintroduces the taxi-spec Rio at the same sub-P600,000 price-point. It's still pretty basic. But it now comes with a 1.2 liter engine, shared with the Hyundai i10. Most people might see this as a disadvantage, but the expected savings in fuel could make it an even more attractive proposition for taxi-operators everywhere.