The upgraded fourth-generation Kia Rio features a range of enhancements to reinvigorate the car’s position within the highly competitive B-segment.
The Rio is an important car for Kia in Europe and worldwide, and is an entry point into the Kia brand for many drivers. The upgraded model builds on the car’s key strengths – practicality, quality and technology – with newly electrified powertrains, a refreshed exterior and interior design, and advanced safety and telematics features often found in cars many segments above. The most significant changes include Kia’s new gasoline 48V ‘EcoDynamics+’ mild-hybrid powertrain, equipped with the company’s new ‘clutch-by-wire’ intelligent manual transmission.
The car is on-sale across Europe, with Kia’s industry-leading 7-Year, 150,000-kilometre warranty as standard.
New EcoDynamics+ gasoline mild-hybrid with new intelligent Manual Transmission
The Rio is powered by Kia’s new gasoline mild-hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) powertrain. The new ‘EcoDynamics+’ powertrain pairs Kia’s ‘Smartstream’ 1.0-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine with Kia’s 48V MHEV system, maximising fuel efficiency with electric torque assistance.
EcoDynamics+ has been engineered to deliver greater efficiency from internal combustion engines on the road, seamlessly deploying and recuperating electric power. The system supplements the engine’s torque output with power from a compact 48-volt lithium-ion polymer battery, and extends engine ‘off time’ with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG) unit.
The MHSG is connected by belt to the engine’s crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between ‘motor’ and ‘generator’ modes. In ‘motor’ mode, under acceleration, the MHSG provides electric power assistance to reduce engine load and emissions. As the car decelerates, the MHSG has the ability under certain conditions to switch to ‘generator’ mode, recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery.
The new Smartstream engine replaces the Rio’s earlier ‘Kappa’-generation 1.0-litre T-GDi, and is equipped with Kia’s advanced Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, among a range of other innovations. CVVD enables the engine to switch seamlessly between different combustion cycles depending on load, maximising efficiency in all driving situations. The Smartstream engine produces the same power as the previous Kappa engine line – 100 ps or 120 ps – and, when equipped with Kia’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT), also enables 16% higher peak torque output for 120 ps variants (200 Nm).
Overall, the new EcoDynamics+ powertrain reduces the Rio’s CO2 emissions by between 8.1% and 10.7% (NEDC, combined cycle), and is offered on both 100 ps and 120 ps versions of the new engine. Both 48V powertrains are equipped with a Drive Mode Select system, giving drivers the choice to customise their drive with ‘Eco’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Normal’ modes.
The Rio EcoDynamics+ is equipped as standard with the brand’s new intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT). The ‘clutch-by-wire’ system contributes to the MHEV system’s greater fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, while retaining the driver engagement of a conventional manual transmission.
Instead of a mechanical linkage, the iMT’s clutch is controlled purely electronically. It integrates seamlessly with the MHSG to switch off the engine earlier than Kia’s Idle Stop & Go start-stop system when coasting to a halt, improving overall fuel efficiency.
The Rio’s 120 ps MHEV powertrain is also available with an optional seven-speed DCT.
New Smartstream gasoline powertrains
The upgraded Kia Rio also features major revisions to its existing range of gasoline engine options, maximising efficiency, lowering CO2 emissions, and improving driveability. As well as EcoDynamics+ models, the Rio line-up is now offered in Europe with a choice of Smartstream gasoline engines – the new 100 ps 1.0-litre T-GDi engine, and a new version of Kia’s naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine, with innovative Dual Port Injection technology and a power output of 84 ps.
The 100 ps 1.0-litre T-GDi engine is also now offered with a six-speed manual transmission, replacing the earlier five-speed manual, and Kia’s seven-speed DCT.
Kia engineers have also upgraded the Rio’s Idle Stop & Go (ISG) system, in recognition of the car’s use in urban areas in markets around the globe. The new brake-linked ISG system offers additional fuel savings by switching off the engine when both the brake and clutch pedal are depressed as the car comes to a halt. The engine switches back on when both pedals are released and the car re-engages the driver’s selected gear. Previously the system was linked exclusively to the clutch. This small adjustment contributes to the Rio’s improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
Upgraded infotainment with innovative UVO Connect ‘Phase II’ telematics
The Rio features an upgraded touchscreen navigation system, and offers the brand’s innovative ‘Phase II’ UVO Connect telematics system, enhancing vehicle connectivity and control, and taking the stress out of journeys.
The upgraded Rio is equipped with a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen display, offering Display Audio or Satellite Navigation depending on vehicle specification. The new system also features Bluetooth multi-connection, enabling users to connect up to two mobile devices at the same time – one for hands-free phone and multimedia use; the other for media use only. Its advanced split-screen functionality lets users control or monitor different vehicle features at the same time, customising the screen with a series of different widgets. The system offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on models equipped with the new 8.0-inch Display Audio system, negating the need for many owners to connect their smartphone via a cable.
Kia’s new ‘Phase II’ UVO Connect telematics features include a range of on-board services including live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest (POIs), fuel prices, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and availability. Online Voice Recognition lets users search for POIs, addresses, weather updates, or send text messages with voice commands. Depending on country, users can remotely send route directions to their car before a journey, check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications.
A new ‘Online Navigation’ routing service uses cloud-based real-time and historical traffic data to predict time-efficient routes more accurately than ever before.
Users can also access the accompanying UVO App, compatible with Android and Apple smartphones, which offers new ‘Phase II’ features such as Last Mile Navigation. This helps customers continue navigating to their destination after they have parked and left the car behind. It helps Kia customers navigate in towns and cities where parking hubs are often some distance away from shops, cafés and restaurants
Subtly refreshed – a clean and classy exterior design
The updated Rio has a refreshed front design exuding style and sportiness. Other updates simplify the car’s design, creating a tasteful and uncluttered appearance for the five-door hatchback.
The car features a handful of design updates for 2020. The refreshed design retains the car’s iconic ‘tiger-nose’ grille, narrowed for a more focused appearance and matched by a lower, wider front bumper and distinctive new fog lamp housing. These changes give the front of the car a smoother, yet more purposeful appearance, imbuing it with a more confident stance on the road. The upgraded model is also available with optional LED headlamps with integral running lights.
Two new exterior colours are also introduced with the upgraded model, Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue, bringing the total number of paint palette options to nine, depending on specification and market. The upgraded model is also offered with a new eight-spoke 16-inch alloy wheel design, in addition to the 15- and 17-inch inch designs available, depending on specification.
The fourth-generation Rio exterior dimensions remain the same, with a balanced stance, a relatively long bonnet and front overhang, short rear overhang and an upright C-pillar. With a 2,580 mm wheelbase, the Rio is 4,065 mm in length (4,070 mm for GT Line models), and 1,450 mm in height. The overall design is characterised by straight, clearly-defined lines running the full length of the car’s shoulder and along its doors, further elongating the appearance of the car for a more confident look.
Upscale interior atmosphere and new colour customisation options
The Kia Rio features a modern cabin, with sculptural forms and a more ergonomic layout than its predecessor, and a dashboard angled towards the driver. The interior is designed to accommodate the Rio’s wide range of technologies.
For the upgraded model, the Rio features a series of visual, material and technological upgrades to create a more upscale atmosphere and enhance quality. The main update is a new larger 8.0-inch widescreen, and a higher-resolution 4.2-inch digital display in the driver’s instrument cluster.
The Rio is available with a choice of black cloth or artificial leather seat upholstery on baseline models. It is also now available with a new interior customisation option in the form of a new blue colour pack, depending on vehicle specification and market. This adds a dash of colour and flair to the cabin, with coloured seat bolsters, dashboard and door arm rests, matched with contrast stitching. A ‘Red Pack’ is also available, with black and red artificial leather-trimmed seats throughout the cabin.
Rio GT-Line models are offered with a black single-tone interior with white contrast piping and stitching on the seats, and a carbon fibre-effect dashboard for added visual impact.
Both standard and GT Line models are also now equipped with driver and optional front passenger seat height adjustability, helping front-seat occupants find their ideal position.
Practicality and packaging
Spacious cabin and generous cargo space
Achieving high levels of practicality was a key focus for Kia’s development and engineering teams, and the result is a car with the most spacious cabin and one of the highest cargo capacities (325 litres) in the B-segment.
The Rio’s relatively long wheelbase and body contribute to its large cabin and cargo area dimensions. Passengers can enjoy 1,070 mm of leg room in the front and 850 mm in the rear, while the car offers more shoulder room than many other cars in its class – 1,375 mm in the front and 1,355 mm in the rear. Front and rear headroom (987 mm and 964 mm respectively) are among the best in the B-segment.
The cabin offers a range of storage spaces, including a double tray at the base of the centre console for mobile devices and other small items, an overhead console with sunglasses storage, and a practical ‘single-box’ glove compartment. There are bottle holders in every door (to accommodate 1.5-litre bottles in the front and 0.5-litre bottles in the rear of the car) and two larger cupholders in the front. The doors also feature closed-bottom storage holes in the door handles, useful for small items such as a phone or coins. An optional armrest is available, adding further storage capacity to the cabin.
A split-level floor enables owners to change the height of the boot floor to store items out of sight. The Rio is fitted as standard with split-folding rear seats and a tyre mobility kit under the boot floor. Buyers can specify an optional spare wheel.
Ride and handling
Agility around corners and comfort at a cruise
The Rio offers a high level of driver engagement, with agile, responsive handling and, a comfortable, stable ride. It features fully-independent with a rigid cross member and struts for direct, assured steering and immediate handling responses. Both front and rear suspension setups are tuned to maximise ride comfort and stability under cornering.
The Rio is fitted as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC). VSM ensures stability under braking and cornering, detecting a loss in traction and using ESC to help the driver keep the car on course.
Accompanying VSM and ESC are two new technologies, fitted as standard. The first of these, Cornering Brake Control, applies asymmetrical braking force to individual wheels when braking under cornering, counteracting a potential loss of traction for greater safety. In addition, Straight Line Stability eliminates yaw under hard straight-line braking – again, applying brake pressure adjustments to individual wheels to maintain stability during heavy braking or an emergency stop.
New ADAS safety technologies available
The upgraded Rio features several Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and active safety features. These include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian, vehicle and newly introduced cyclist recognition, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).
Depending on specification, the Rio’s new ADAS and active safety range also includes the latest version of Kia’s FCA system, and the car is also available with Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)*, Intelligent Speed Limit Warning (ISLW), Smart Cruise Control (SCC)*, and Lane Following Assist (LFA).
LFA in collaboration with SCC controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front and road conditions. Operating at speeds below 180 kph, it uses camera 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. The Rio also features Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)* and Rear Occupant Alert (ROA).
Finally, a Leading Vehicle Departure Alert is also available, depending on specification, as a first-in-class innovation. If the driver stops the Rio in heavy traffic or at a red light, it alerts them if the car in front moves away and the Rio driver doesn’t notice. This helps avoid the potential embarrassment of other impatient road users ‘reminding’ the driver to move off instead.
The upgraded model is fitted with six airbags throughout the cabin, as well as ISOFIX child-seat tether and anchor points.
Production and sales
Built in Korea, and offered in Europe with Kia’s industry-leading warranty
The updated Kia Rio is manufactured in Korea and has been on-sale across Europe since the third quarter of 2020. All models offer the company’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty as standard.