New Kia Rio facelift adds range of mild hybrid engines

The Kia Rio supermini has been updated for 2020 with styling tweaks and a selection of new EcoDynamics+ engines

This is the heavily revised Kia Rio, the first model in a product blitz from the Korean maker that will last 18 months. The Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa rival gets new engines, a trick transmission that’s claimed to improve efficiency and a number of upgrades to interior equipment, infotainment and safety technology.

The biggest news on the engine front is EcoDynamics+, which pairs Kia’s latest 1.0 T-GDi turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a 48v starter/generator that brings mild-hybrid assistance to the model for the first time.

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The system, which has a lithium-ion battery, harnesses braking energy and then feeds it back to help the engine during stop-start situations and under acceleration. Kia claims that the technology helps to cut between eight and 10 per cent from CO2 emissions under the old NEDC test cycle, although the company has yet to release any official WLTP figures for the new model.

EcoDynamics+ will be fitted to two versions of the 1.0 motor, called Smartstream, which replaces the old Rio’s Kappa engines. Outputs of 99bhp and 118bhp will be available, while the motor will be offered in some European countries without the hybrid assistance (and presumably at a lower price), although Kia UK has yet to finalise its revised model line-up. Either way, the MHEV editions are likely to be pitched in the middle of the Rio range, with the entry-level cars getting a revised version of the current car’s 1.2-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, producing 83bhp.

The more efficient gearbox, meanwhile, uses an electronic clutch linkage that integrates with the MHEV system, so the engine shuts off earlier when the car is coasting to a halt. Other tweaks to the transmission line-up include a six-speed manual on the 99bhp 1.0 model for the first time, along with the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch auto on the same version.

As is usually the case with a midlife facelift, the changes to the exterior styling are relatively minor. There are new, wider bumpers and a fresh design of LED headlights and daytime running lights that will be standard across the range.

Inside, the Rio gets Kia’s upgraded infotainment system. Called UVO Connect, it has an eight-inch central touchscreen that will incorporate satellite navigation on some trim levels. On others, owners will be able to rely on wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are both included.

The system will be one of the first in the Kia range to feature live telematics, allowing users to access up-to-the-minute data on everything from traffic to weather, fuel prices and parking locations with availability. There’s also an accompanying smartphone app, again for both Apple iOS and Android, that allows users to access vehicle diagnostics and send route information to the car before starting a journey.

Elsewhere in the cabin, there are upgraded materials, including a carbon fibre-effect panel on the dashboard for GT-Line versions, and a higher resolution 4.2-inch digital display between the instruments. All Rios will also get height adjustment on the driver and front passenger seats as standard.

Fresh safety tech includes collision, vehicle and cyclist detection on the car’s forward collision-avoidance systems, and a ‘leading vehicle departure alert’ that’s designed to “avoid embarrassment” when the Rio’s driver doesn’t notice that the car in front has pulled away from traffic lights.

The new Rio is due on sale this autumn. There’s no word yet from Kia UK on prices or specs, but given the additional equipment, we’d expect a modest increase over the outgoing model’s figures. That could give the revised Rio a starting figure of around £11,000.

Do you like the look of the updated Kia Rio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section…

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