Kia Picanto and Rio updated: fresh looks and mild-hybrid tech

Published 01 October 2020

Updated versions of the Kia Picanto and Kia Rio have gone on sale today. Both get refreshed inside and out, while the Picanto has a new automated manual transmission and new Smartstream engines. The Rio, meanwhile, can now be had with 48V mild-hybrid technology for the first time.

The Picanto is Kia’s smallest model and its revised looks make it appear chunkier than the outgoing car – high-end GT-Line and X-Line models get a textured grille and red or black highlights to help them stand out from the range's lower reaches. Revised rear LEDs complete the look, you can choose from eight paint finishes and alloy wheels 14-16 inches in size.

Inside, ’3’ models and upwards get a larger infotainment screen – up from seven to eight inches – and it can connect wirelessly to two phones, not one as before.

It’s a fully connected system giving you live traffic updates and fuel prices, as well as allowing you to connect to the car remotely using Kia's UVO app to check things like the car's location or to set a postcode in the sat-nav before you set off. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also fitted so you can mirror your phone's apps on the car’s big screen.

Kia Picanto (2)

Engines have also been improved. The Picanto's offered with two petrols – a 99PS 1.0-litre with a turbocharger or a 66PS 1.0-litre without. All but basic ‘1’ models have a five-speed manual gearbox that can be swapped for a five-speed automated manual.

Safety has also been boosted with ‘2’ models and upwards coming with an automatic emergency braking system that can detect people as well as cars. All models get seven-airbags including an airbag for your knees.

The new range is priced from £10,745 for a 66PS Picanto ‘1’ rising to £15,795 for a top-of-the-range 99PS GT-Line S model.

The Kia Rio has been treated to much the same freshen up. It too gets new looks and the same upgraded infotainment system – again an inch larger than before – is fitted to ‘2’ models and above. They also get a 4.2-inch TFT display in the instrument cluster.

Kia Picanto (3)

The most notable news is the addition of a mild-hybrid petrol engine – the first in a Kia – wearing the tag EcoDynamics+ which pairs Kia’s 118PS 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a small electric motor to get it from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds.

Along with giving a torque boost when you’re setting off, the system also regenerates electricity when coasting and under braking, plus it allows the Kia to turn off its engine before coming to a complete halt – think stop-start on steroids.

As a result, it’ll return up to 52mpg under tough new WLTP testing – 2mpg better than the slower 99PS model.

Cars fitted with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox get driving modes such as Eco, Sport and Normal, while six-speed manual cars have a drive-by-wire clutch for improved efficiency.

The range starts from £13,395 for an 83PS Rio ‘1’. The cheapest mild-hybrid model is the £18,895 Rio ‘3’ and the range is topped by the £20,895 GT-Line S mild-hybrid with the optional twin-clutch gearbox.


Sir Lancelot    on 5 October 2020

That rules out the Rio for me. No torque converter auto.

Howard Buchanan    on 6 October 2020

Automated manuals are asking for trouble. Thank goodness I bought my wife a new S Line Picanto with the torque converter auto gearbox before they discontinued it. Don't like the sound of "stop/start on steroids" either- in my experience atop/start is a pain in the backside, potentially dangerous and a clever way of boosting sales of replacement starter motors. On one of my cars, I've managed to disable it.

geoff askew    on 7 October 2020

fully agree regarding picanto auto now a manual with electrics. just purchased 69 reg picanto auto with torque convertor box can accept that its got relatively poor fuel consumption for the miles that we use it for. geff chelmsford

conman    on 17 October 2020

Plug-In Hybrids No Greener, Or Even Worse, Than ICE Models, Study Finds
BY Sergiu Tudose | Posted on October 17, 2020 13

According to a recent study, most plug-in hybrid models aren’t more environmentally friendly than their regular combustion engine counterparts due to their limited all-electric range. Furthermore, if PHEVs aren’t regularly charged, their CO2 emissions can actually be worse than those of a conventional gasoline or diesel model.

The study concludes with German researchers saying that regulators and governments must stop giving PHEVs excessively beneficial treatments.

While such a conclusion only serves as ammunition for critics of the technology, German premium carmakers in particular have embraced plug-in hybrid systems as an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions.

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