• Kia Rio GT-Line.
    Kia Rio GT-Line.
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Kia Rio facelift revealed

28th May 2020 3:44 pm

Besides the cosmetic updates, the big addition to the Rio facelift is the mild-hybrid tech and the new iMT gearbox.

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  • The Rio gets the new ‘Smartstream’ 1.0-litre T-GDI engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system
  • New intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) slated to come with the India-bound Kia Sonet SUV
  • Updated Kia UVO connected car tech gets more features

The Kia Rio premium hatchback has been facelifted and it now features a raft of new technology and a new mild-hybrid petrol engine with an innovative clutch-by-wire manual transmission, along with the styling tweaks. For those who don’t know, the Rio is considered a rival to the Hyundai i20 and the Honda Jazz in the international markets.

What design changes does the Rio facelift get?

On the outside, the Rio receives several subtle styling updates. The front grille is now narrower, the front bumper is lower and wider, new full-LED headlights have been added and the fog light housings have also been redesigned (the GT-Line gets a tweaked version). The updated hatchback now features new eight-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels.

What updates does it get on the inside?

The most significant change on the inside is the larger 8.0-inch, free-standing touchscreen infotainment system with Kia’s latest ‘Phase II’ UVO telematics and connected car technology. This is expected to make its way to future Kia India models as well. The GT Line models also get special carbon fiber-like trim inserts. Kia has also added more safety kit, including Lane Following Assist. This feature uses cameras and radar sensors to maintain a safe distance from the car in front while monitoring road markings to keep the Rio in the centre of its lane.

What is new under the hood?

Kia has equipped the Rio facelift with a new powertrain – the ‘Smartstream’ 1.0-litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine which gets a 48V mild-hybrid system. This engine replaces the previous 1.0-litre T-GDI ‘Kappa’ series engine. However, the power figures remain unchanged when compared to the older engine, as the Smartstream unit produces the same 100hp (or 120hp depending on the application) as its ‘Kappa’ counterpart. There is also an 84hp, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated unit available with the base models.

The mild-hybrid system enables the Rio to offer electric torque assistance and regenerative braking, which maximises fuel-efficiency. Further setting the Rio apart from its competitors is the introduction of Kia’s Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, which allows the engine to switch between different combustion cycles depending on load to maximise efficiency.

Another noteworthy change is the new ‘clutch-by-wire’ intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT). This innovation means there's no mechanical connection between the gearstick, gearbox and clutch - it is believed to be a market-first. It's said to contribute to the mild-hybrid powertrain's greater fuel efficiency. An auto rev-matching function allows gear changes in the absence of a clutch pedal. This new iMT gearbox will also be fitted to the upcoming Kia Sonet compact SUV, when it is launched. The new manual is a 6-speed unit (instead of the 5 -speed it replaces), and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic will also be available.

Kia has not made announcements regarding its plans to bring the Rio to our market yet. However, it has recently launched the Carnival MPV in India as its second offering, with the first one being the popular Seltos SUV. The brand is also on track to launch the Sonet compact SUV in our market around August-September, once the lockdown lifts.

Also see:

Kia Rio facelift image gallery

Kia Seltos variants set to get feature upgrades

Kia Motors India introduces ‘Kia Care’ initiative

2020 Kia Picanto facelift revealed

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