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Kia revamps Rio range. Image by Kia.

Kia revamps Rio range
First-ever MHEV Kia model and new clutch-by-wire manual part of midlife updates for fourth-gen Rio.
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What's all this about?

Kia has updated its fourth-generation Rio supermini, less than three years since it first arrived on the scene. There's a raft of improved and new Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) to boost its safety levels, the improved touchscreen satnav now comes on an eight-inch screen and allows for two Bluetooth devices to be attached at the same time, the outside has been tweaked with new headlights/bumpers/taillights/'tiger-nose' grille, a fresh design of eight-spoke 16-inch alloys and a couple of colours (one being rather-nice-sounding Sporty Blue, the other being the somewhat-less-enticing Perennial Grey), and there are revamped drivetrains. Both the 100hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged T-GDi and the 84hp 1.2-litre four-cylinder nat-asp petrol engines are new, the latter a development of what went before, the former a 'Smartstream' unit to replace the older 'Kappa' lump which saw service in the Rio before. However, the bigger news comes in the form of mild-hybrid electrification (MHEV) for the Kia, as well as a 'clutch-by-wire' (CBW) system.

Clutch-by-wire? Wot dat?

Are you OK, there? Anyway, moving swiftly on, intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) is the CBW system and it does pretty much what it says on the tin: you do away with the mechanical clutch cable and instead replace it with a pedal-angle-sensing, er, sensor in the clutch pedal assembly, which sends a signal to the physical clutch itself and tells it to disengage/engage as appropriate. The benefit of this system is it can have automatic-like tendencies (such as 'creep' without pedal usage in stop-start traffic and 'coasting' when the driver is off the throttle at speed), without the expenditure of a full auto or dual-clutch gearbox. It is also said to improve economy and CO2 emissions, and it should also result in greater reliability from the clutch, as computer-control systems ought to prevent the clutch slippage that some inexperienced and/or mechanically unsympathetic drivers can inflict on their manual cars.

Sounds intriguing. Will this be for the aforementioned MHEV models of the Rio?

Yes, it will, for now; the 'regular' 1.0 T-GDi Smartstream will have a six-speed manual but it is not cited as being the iMT (there's a seven-speed DCT auto option on that car, by the way). So, the MHEV set-up is available on the Smartstream 100- and 120hp models, where it will go under the name 'EcoDynamics+'. This incorporates a 48-volt mild-hybrid set-up with a lithium-ion battery pack and a belt-driven Mild-Hybrid Starter Generator (MHSG), to maximise fuel efficiency with electric torque assistance and regenerative braking. Not only that, but the Smartstream 1.0 has Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, allowing it to switch between different combustion cycles (more powerful Otto and more efficient Atkinson) depending on the engine load, and all of this means that Kia can claim NEDC-correlated reductions in CO2 emissions of between 8.1 and 10.7 per cent on the Rio EcoDynamics+ models. Indeed, the 120hp version also has up to 16 per cent more torque than previous 1.0-litre Rios, with up to 200Nm on tap.

UK price and specifications for the Rio Mk4.5 will be revealed in due course, and we'll bring you all the details when we can.

Matt Robinson - 26 May 2020

2020 Kia Rio Updated. Image by Kia.2020 Kia Rio Updated. Image by Kia.2020 Kia Rio Updated. Image by Kia.2020 Kia Rio Updated. Image by Kia.2020 Kia Rio Updated. Image by Kia.

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