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2020 Kia Rio: Even better tech, new engines, fresh colours

FRANKFURT, Germany – Kia Motors has announced ”a significant upgrade” to the fourth-generation Kia Rio with a range of enhancements intended, the automaker says, ”to re-invigorate the Rio’s position in the highly competitive B-segment”.

The cars will in due course appear in South Africa.

The cars’ exteriors have been updated and the cabins given ”big car” crash mitigation and infotainment technology. New powertrains have been inserted – one of them the brand’s first petrol/48V mild-hybrid propulsion – to spin the cars’ new clutch-by-wire ”intelligent” manual transmission.

2020 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

Shell design-wise, the cars’ ‘tiger-nose’ grille has been narrowed for a more focused appearance over a lower and wider front bumper and freshened housings for the foul-weather front lights.

All models now have diode headlights and daytime running lights.

New grey and blue shades have taken to nine the choice of body colours and eight-spoked 16” alloy wheel rims added.


Visual, material, and technological upgrades appear in the cabin for what Kia calls ”a more upscale atmosphere and enhanced quality” – the most obvious being a new larger 20cm widescreen and a higher-resolution 10.7cm digital display in the instrument cluster.

2020 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

Customisation options come as a new blue colour pack – varying with vehicle spec and country – that includes coloured seat bolsters, facia and armrests, each with contrast stitching.


GT-Line models further add a black interior with white contrast piping and upholstery stitching and a faux carbon-fibre dashboard.

Standard and GT Line models have been endowed with driver and the option of front passenger seat-height adjustment.

The 2020 Rio has become the first Kia to be powered by a petrol/hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) powertrain that combines a new Smartstream one-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine with a 48V MHEV system.


The result, Kia says, is ”maximised fuel efficiency with electric torque assistance and regenerative braking”.

EcoDynamics+ has been engineered to deliver greater efficiency from internal combustion engines by deploying and recuperating electric power. The system supplements the engine’s torque output with power from a compact 48V lithium-ion polymer battery that is connected by a belt to the engine’s crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between ‘engine’ and ‘generator’ modes.

2020 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

In ‘engine’ mode, under acceleration, the system provides electric power to reduce engine load and emissions. As the car decelerates under certain conditions it switches to ‘generator’ mode to recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery.


The new Smartstream engine replaces the Rio’s earlier Kappa-generation one-litre T-GDi and is equipped with advanced continuously variable valve duration which enables the engine to switch seamlessly between varying combustion cycles depending on load and so ”maximises efficiency in all driving situations”.

The Smartstream makes the same power as the  Kappa line – 74kW or 88kW – but enables 16% more peak torque for 88kW/200Nm variants.

2020 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

Both 48V powertrains will be equipped with have a selector to choose Eco, Sport or Normal modes.

The Rio EcoDynamics+ is one of the first Kia units to be equipped with the brand’s new intelligent manual transmission with an electronic clutch said to benefit fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions.

READ MORE Kia features on Carman’s Corner

It can also switch off the engine when coasting to a halt to improve overall fuel efficiency.

The Rio will be offered in Europe (and therefore probably South Africa) with a choice of Smartstream engines: the new 74kW one-litre T-GDi and a new version of its naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine equipped with dual-port fuel injection and capable of 62kW.

2020 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

The 74kW one-litre T-GDi engine will spin a six-speed manual transmission (replacing a five-speed) or a seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

The coming models will also have an upgraded touchscreen satanav and offer a new telematics system that will give drivers traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, fuel prices, and indicate on- and off-street parking – including prices.

Voice commands are included – as are collision, pedestrian and cyclist warnings, lane-keeping, ”wake up” warning, blind-spots coverage, speed limit recognition, cruise control, cross-traffic warning, stability control, and corner braking control, 

Crash mitigation will come from six nitrogen bags and child-seat anchors.

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