Kia hoping to topple Toyota Yaris with updated Rio

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Words: Matthew Hansen
22 Sep 2020

Kia’s second smallest car, the Rio, is set to gain a handful of key changes for the 2021 model year, helping it close in on the all-new Toyota Yaris and the recently updated Suzuki Swift.

The Rio is set to gain Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, to go with its lane keep assist, lane follow assist, and driver alert assist systems that are standard in all models.

The EX, Limited, and newly minted GT Line+, meanwhile, now get standard blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic avoidance. Front parking sensors, an electromagnetic rear-view mirror, and rain-sensing wipers are also now standard in EX models and above.

While there are some minor visual changes, tech is clearly where Kia has applied itself most with the update. All models gain a larger set of monitors; an 8-inch touchscreen in the centre and a 4.2-inch display in the instrument binnacle. One of the most impressive features within the update is the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in LX and GT Line models — a feature many premium cars don’t offer.

Speaking of premium features, the Rio GT Line and GT Line+ will come with LED bi-function headlights capable of peering around corners to aid visibility.

Engines remain the same, with Kia offering either a 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol four or a 1.0-litre turbo triple. The brand is keeping the manual alive in offering a six-speed stick as an alternative to the base automatic in the cheaper models. The three-popper, meanwhile, comes exclusively paired to a seven-speed dual clutch.

“Rio continues to be one of the most popular models in the Kia line-up in New Zealand and the upgrades we have introduced for 2021 will certainly enhance that reputation,” says Kia New Zealand managing director Todd McDonald.

The new Rio is already hitting local dealerships, priced from $22,990 (LX manual) up to $31,990 for the new GT Line+.

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