Motoring News

Refreshed Rio: ‘Designed to outrun expectations’

Bolder exterior thanks to design updates

Alloy wheel rims now standard across range

20cm colour touchscreen standard across the range

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Kia Motors SA has introduced a refreshed and revised Rio range with a focus on an enhanced shell and more standard spec features for 2021.

The current Kia range was launched in South Africa back in 2017 though the model has been around for nearly a decade; this the next range, Kia says, ”offers a notably improved value proposition”.

Gary Scott, Kia SA’s CEO, told The Corner in a media release: “The Rio has always been popular-  and important to us for nearly a decade. Refreshed design and better infotainment and connectivity features have built on the Rio’s key strengths – practicality and quality.”

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2021 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

The current model launched in 2017, Kia says, was widely praised for distinctive styling and sportiness. Within a year of launch the Rio won a Good Design award from the the Chicago Museum of Design.


So exterior design changes for 2021 have been restrained. Most enhancements, the automaker says, were concentrated at the front of the car. The Rio still has its iconic ‘tiger’s nose’ grille, though flattened in comparison with its predecessor.

Similar has been done to the now lower and wider front bumper and distinctive new foul-weather lights’ housings.

Stephen Crosse, Kia SA’s sales director, said: ”Exterior updates may appear minimal but in combination the cars have a smoother, more purposeful and sporty, appearance. Two new colour choices are on offer – grey or blue metallic.”

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2021 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

Interior changes are also minimal: the main update a larger colour touchscreen – up from 18cm to 20cm and standard on all Rio models.

USB and auxiliary-in ports, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been added along with another 12V power socket. All models have steering-wheel audio controls and Bluetooth telephony.

There is no change to the engine choices – the Rio continues with 1.25 and 1.4 displacements with multi-point fuel injection).

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2021 KIA RIO. Image: Supplied

The 1.25 makes  61kW at 6000rpm/120Nm at 4000. The 1.4 makes 73kW at 6300rpm/135Nm at 4200rpm. Each drives the front wheels through either a five- or six-speed manual or a six-speed auto, depending on model.


There are four spec levels: Along with driver and front passenger crash-mitigation nitrogen bags (add side and curtain bags for the Tec model) the Rio has front seat-belt pre-tensioners with load limiters, impact beams in each door, child locks, and impact sensing door unlocking.

IsoFix child-seat anchors are standard, as are anti-lock brakes, stability control and hill-start assistance – depending on model.

As an entry point to the Rio range, Kia still offers the Rio 1.2 LS but has added a 1.4-litre LS, manual and auto with – among other items – aircon, power windows and external mirrors, central locking, alarm/immobiliser, six speakers (was four), steering-wheel udio controls, rake/reach adjustable steering, and manual headlight adjustment.

BIGGER SCREENS. Image: Supplied

However, the most notable revisions are on the entry-level LS grade. Apart from the standard 20cm colour touchscreen LS models gain 15” alloy wheel rims.


The 1.4 Rio LX gains front foul-weather lights, a centre console armrest, leather-wrapped steering-wheel and gear-shifter, and a new Supervision instrument cluster. External mirrors auto fold and carry turn indicators while the vehicle’s lighting system gains auto light control with an escort and ”welcome home” function.

The Rio EX (1.4 only) builds on the already extensive standard features of the LX with projector headlights, daytime running lights, and a rear-view camera. The wheels are now 17” alloys.

The Kia Rio TEC continues as the halo model: it’s also available only with the 1.4 engine but carries auto aircon and screen wipers, diode rear light clusters, cruise control, an electro-chromatic rearview mirror, alloy pedals, and leather upholstery.


  • Kia Rio 1.2 LS – R280 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 LS – R291 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 LS a/t – R308 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 LX – R306 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 LX a/t – R323 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 EX – R319 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 EX a/t R336 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 TEC – R344 995
  • Kia Rio 1.4 TEC a/t R361 995

The Kia Rio TEC may also be ordered with a factory-fitted sunroof – extra R8 000.

Each Kia Rio will be delivered with an unlimited distance/five-year warranty (includes five years’ of roadside assistance (also unlimited distance). The Rio 1.2 LS includes a two-year or 60 000km* service plan, all 1.4 models include a four-year or 60 000km* service plan.

The refreshed Rio will be in showrooms from December 1. 2020.

*Whichever comes first.

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