IT has not been an easy ride for Kia’s “big little car”, the attractive and competent Rio supermini.

Squeezed by the Koran company’s excellent Picanto city car and Ceed family hatchback, it has struggled to make much headway in the UK sales charts.

Which is really rather odd when you consider that this very likeable car is Kia’s biggest seller globally.

Another reason why it has failed to make much of an impact is that it is up against the two biggest sellers on these shore, Ford’s seemingly invincible Fiesta and Vauxhall’s endearing and newly updated Corsa.

Even Kia admits the Rio is overshadowed in the UK by the Ceed and the exceptional sales success of the Sportage SUV, but the fourth generation might just manage to make a difference.

It now has more space, it is certainly more stylish and there’s a whole raft of new equipment.

In addition, there are new GT-Line and CT-Line S models for those looking for big car features in a pint-sized package, and a seven-speed automatic option.

The list goes on, with new suspension and steering for what Kia calls a “more grown-up” driving experience, more safety aids, a stiffer body shell and the inclusion of advanced connectivity features for the first time.

There’s a choice of ten models in the range, but the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol offering mated to six-speed manual transmission will surely offer the best experience.

I tested it in the GTS-Line trim and found it to not only have a perky performance but also return an average of 50mpg over several days of city, countryside and motorway driving.

With a name like Rio, you might expect it be a fun car, and it certainly lacks for little in that department. The cabin has been designed around a touchscreen for the infotainment, navigation and connectivity features, and if you move up to the GT Line S model you will find an increase in the touchscreen size from 3.8 inches to seven inches, smart key entry and start/stop, automatic air conditioning, rain-sensing front wipers, a rear park assist system, heated front seats and even a heated steering wheel.

But don’t be decived by the sporty twin exhausts tips that also come with the GT Line model. The Rio is capable at best of a 0 to 60mph sprint time of 9.8 seconds when matched with the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine and a sluggish 12.5 seconds if you opt for the 1.25 or 1.4 engine.

Agile, attractive and well equipped – even in the 1, 2 and 3 trim levels that sit below the GT Line and GTS Line models - its ten-model range is priced from a very reasonable £12,955 to £18,970.

It is available only as a five-door and now boasts leg and shoulder room among the best in class and an increased boot capacity of 325 litres – up 13 per cent on the previous version.

A lot of consideration has been given to making the car more attractive, and to that end it is 15mm longer, has a sleeker bonnet and the height has been slightly reduced to emphasise that sleekness. Couple with the attractive LED daytime running lights and wider grille, there’s a new confidence in its appearance to match a new maturity in its handling.

The Rio will probably remain in the shadow of other Kia models but that is not to say it is not worthy of your consideration. It has been tweaked from front to tail and loaded with some of the very latest convenience features, but is still an also-ran when compared with the best for driver engagement in this sector.