New Rio updated with exterior and interior enhancements, along with a new mild-hybrid powertrain.
Earlier this year, we got our first look at the upcoming Kia Rio facelift in prototype form, and now the covers have officially been removed. For the 2021 model year, Kia has updated the fourth-generation Rio with a range of exterior and interior enhancements, and a new mild-hybrid powertrain. Kia has only unveiled the European version for now, but we're expecting these changes to carry over to the Kia Rio5 hatchback and Kia Rio sedan sold in the US.
Compared to the 2020 model, the upgraded Kia Rio features a refreshed front design with a narrower tiger-nose grille and full LED headlights with integral running lights. Additional tweaks simplify the design for a cleaner look. Two new exterior colors are also available with the upgraded model (Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue) along with a new eight-spoke 16-inch alloy wheel design.
Inside, a host of interior and technological upgrades make the cabin more upscale, including a new eight-inch widescreen for the infotainment system, and a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster with a higher resolution. A new blue color pack brightens up the interior with colored seat bolsters, dashboard and door armrests, matched with contrast stitching. GT-Line models can also be fitted with a black single-tone interior with white contrast piping and stitching on the seats and an eye-catching carbon fiber-effect dashboard. In addition, standard and GT Line models are now equipped with driver and optional front passenger seat height adjustability.
The biggest change can be found under the hood, however. The Rio is the first Kia powered by a mild-hybrid setup that pairs Kia's new Smartstream 1.0-liter turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine with a 48V MHEV system that increases the fuel efficiency with electric torque assistance and regenerative braking.
This is the same system that was recently introduced in the new Hyundai i20. Like the previous model, this setup has an output of 100 hp and 120 hp, but peak torque has increased by 16 percent for the 120-hp variant to 147 lb-ft. This new powertrain also reduces CO2 emissions by between 8.1 percent and 10.7 percent based on NEDC ratings.
In addition to the mild-hybrid setup, the 2021 Kia Rio is offered with a new 100-hp 1.0-liter T-GDi engine and a new version of Kia's naturally aspirated 1.2-liter engine with 84 hp. As standard, the turbocharged engine is offered with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed auto dual-clutch transmission.
Kia has also upgraded the Rio's Idle Stop & Go system to offer additional fuel savings by switching off the engine when both the brake and clutch pedal are depressed when the car stops. The engine switches back on when both pedals are released and the car re-engages the driver's selected gear. Previously, this system was linked to the clutch but is now brake-linked.
New driver safety assists include the latest version of Kia's forward collision avoidance system as well as an available blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, intelligent speed limit warning, smart cruise control, lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and rear occupant alert.
In Europe, the 2021 Kia Rio will go on sale in Q3, 2020. Hopefully, US availability and pricing will be announced soon.