2020 Kia Rio Gets A Hybrid Engine And ‘Clutch by Wire’, Hyundai i20 to Follow Suit?


Kia has unveiled the facelifted version of their Rio hatchback. For the uninitiated, the Rio hatchback and Hyundai i20 are based on the same platform and have the same underpinnings. The updated Rio has received some significant styling upgrades coupled with some minor changes in the cabin as well. The highlight here, however, is the engine. This is the first time that Kia has deployed a 48V mild-hybrid setup paired with one of the first applications of the company’s new ‘clutch-by-wire’ manual transmission. The updated Kia will go on sale in Europe during the third quarter of 2020.

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Kia has replaced the Kappa 1.0-litre T-GDi engine with the new ‘Smartstream’ 1.0-litre T-GDi engine. All thanks to electric torque assistance and regenerative braking, the Rio facelift will be able to keep going for more miles than the outgoing model. The installation of an electric motor has resulted in more torque output. While the engine makes the same power as the Kappa engine lineup – 99 hp or 119 hp – but has a 16% higher peak torque output for 119 hp variants (200 Nm).

Also read: 2020 Kia Seltos Set To Be Updated With Added Features

2020 Kia Rio 2

Coming to the exterior, the front end is now more stylishly designed and full LED headlamps will be offered as standard. The grille has been narrowed, accompanied with a redesigned bumper and fog lamp housing. The updated hatchback also benefits visually from new 16-inch alloy wheels. Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue new exterior colors have also been introduced. Updated styling on the exterior front has made the Rio even better in terms of aesthetics and looks.

2020 Kia Rio

The most noteworthy change on the inside has to be the inclusion of a larger 8.0-inch, free-standing touchscreen infotainment system with Kia’s latest ‘Phase II’ UVO telematics and connected car technology. The Rio is one of the first Kia models in Europe to offer the brand’s ‘Phase II’ UVO Connect telematics system for enhanced vehicle connectivity and control. Compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, the UVO App offers a range of new ‘Phase II’ features, some of which can be accessed remotely. Depending on the country, users can remotely send route directions to their car before a journey, check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications. It is the updated version of the infotainment system that we have here in Kia cars. This is expected to make its way to future Kia India models as well.

2020 Kia Rio (1)

The gearbox options include a new ‘clutch-by-wire’ intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic will also be available. The ‘clutch by wire’ technology, as you might have guessed by its name, works in a similar fashion as ‘ride by wire’. While ‘ride by wire’ eliminates throttle cable, ‘clutch by wire’ eliminates the mechanical connection between the gearstick, gearbox and clutch – it is believed to be a market-first.

2020 Kia Rio 3

With so many new innovations and a new hybrid motor, we can’t help but ponder over the possibility of seeing these changes making their way to the Hyundai i20 as well. There’s no word regarding Rio’s India launch.


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