KIA has torn the covers off its updated Rio light hatch, with the pint-sized Korean model sporting refreshed styling, new driver assistance tech and the brand’s first ever mild-hybrid petrol engine, however the new mill will not be coming to Australia.
The first update for the Rio since the fourth-generation model launched locally in early 2017, the new model will carry over the existing range of powertrains consisting of a 74kW/133Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine and the range-topping 1.0-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder engine in the GT-Line, which has been detuned from 88kW to 74kW/172Nm.
The 1.4 will continue to be paired with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the GT-Line is equipped exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Overseas markets will also feature a mild-hybrid variant based on the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder found in the GT-Line grade.
Named ‘EcoDynamics+’ by Kia, the new mill is paired to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, with a starter-generator paired to the engine’s crankshaft by a belt, which can help maximise the engine’s fuel efficiency.
Under acceleration, the starter-generator can provide electric power assistance to the petrol motor to help reduce load, while energy can be recuperated from the crankshaft when decelerating.
The three-pot petrol engine also now comes with Continuously Variable Valve Duration to maximise efficiency, which combined with the 48V system, allows for emissions improvements of between 8.1 and 10.7 per cent.
Peak power in the hybrid engine remains steady at 88kW, however torque has been boosted from 172Nm to 200Nm.
The hybrid Rio is also one of the first Kia models to be equipped with a clutch-by-wire intelligent manual transmission, with electronically controlled linkage that integrates with the hybrid system to optimise the idle-stop system, coasting ability and fuel efficiency.
Kia has chosen to introduce a number of new active safety features on the updated Rio, which depending on specification includes the latest iteration of its autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, vehicle and cyclist integration, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, intelligent speed limit warning, smart cruise control and lane-following assist.
The Rio will also feature a new system called Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, which in the event of the driver getting distracted at a red light or in standstill traffic, will alert the driver when the car in front begins to move forward.
Exterior styling has been lightly tweaked with a narrower tiger nose grille, lower and wider front bumper, LED headlights across the board, new eight-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels, and two new paint finishes – Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue.
Inside, the biggest changes include a new 8.0-inch touchscreen (up from a 7.0-inch unit) and higher-resolution 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, with the former scoring Kia’s new UVO Connect ‘Phase II’ telematics system.
The Phase II system allows access to features such as live traffic updates, weather forecasts, fuel prices and parking options, which are also compatible with voice recognition.
Also new with the 8.0-inch display is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth connectivity for two separate phones.
Local details including pricing and specification will be revealed closer to the Rio’s local launch in July.
Through the first four months of the year, Kia has sold 1926 examples of the Rio, down 11.9 per cent but still enough for third in the light car segment behind the Toyota Yaris (3091) and MG3 (1968).