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Paris show: Kia to split Rio facelift launch

Go to Rio: The current generation Rio (left) is inline for a refresh and Kia will rip the covers off it at this year's Paris motor show.

Spruced up Kia Rio to hit showrooms in two waves after its Parisian splash

Kia logo19 Sep 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

KIA’S facelifted Rio light hatchback will be introduced in two waves to Australia after its debut at next month’s Paris motor show where it will share the limelight with the all-new Sorento SUV and Optima T-Hybrid concept car.

The Rio S entry model and slightly higher Rio S-Premium – a new variant with a few more bells and whistles – will be rolled out about November, while the mid-to-high-end Si, SLi and Sport versions are expected to follow in January, just in time to star at the Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

New bumpers, fog lights, an updated ‘tiger-nose’ grille and three new alloy wheel designs, in 15-, 16- and 17-inch diameters, are included in the exterior makeover for the Korean-built hatchback that is Kia’s top-selling car in Australia.

Inside, chrome accents and a new centre-stack audio system have been added, while options now include a new DAB digital radio and new-generation AVN (audio-video navigation) system with a 7.0-inch display screen, improved processing speed and faster route calculation.

The powertrain line-up will remain unchanged, with entry models getting the 79kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission, while Si, SLi and Sport variants will be powered by the 103kW 1.6-litre unit, with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.

The current Rio was launched in Australia in February 2012, and with sales slipping 9.3 per cent this year in a market segment down 2.7 per cent, the facelift is timely.

Pricing and revised specifications are expected closer to launch.

As GoAuto has reported, the Paris show will also host the formal international public unveiling of the new Sorento that is due in Australian showrooms in the first quarter of next year.

New from the ground up and built on the same platform as the upcoming new-generation Kia Carnival, the latest Sorento is billed as more spacious, quieter, safer and altogether more refined than the outgoing model that competes against the likes of the Ford Territory, Toyota Kluger and related Hyundai Santa Fe in the large SUV class.

While the new Sorento is a definite for Australian showrooms, the same cannot be said for another Kia vehicle to be shown at the Paris vehicle expo – the Optima T-Hybrid.

Billed as a one-off show car, the T-Hybrid – standing for turbo hybrid – is will showcase Kia’s new diesel-electric mild hybrid powertrain that the South Korean company is yet to confirm for production.

The system combines a 1.7-litre CRDi turbo-diesel engine with a small electric motor and 48-volt lead-carbon battery pack to boost power by 15 to 20 per cent while cutting fuel consumption.

Kia says the system is still under development, and no fuel figures have been offered.

Like many other hybrids, the Optima T-Hybrid can to be driven in electric-only mode at low speeds and when cruising, with deceleration serving to recharge the battery pack.

Lead-carbon batteries were chosen over lithium-ion batteries because, Kia says, they require no active cooling and are easier to recycle at the end of the unit’s lifecycle.

The batteries also power an innovative electric supercharger for the CRDi engine, in addition to the conventional turbocharger, to boost torque and engine response at low engine speeds.

Kia will also show its latest Europe-only Venga mini MPV at Paris. Like Rio, the Venga is getting a mild makeover to rev it up into 2015.

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