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First look: Kia goes back to Rio

All change: Kia has unveiled a facelift for the Rio, which is known as the Pride in South Korea.

Facelifted Kia Rio to spearhead a flurry of new model activity from Kia

31 Jul 2009

KIA Motors has officially revealed the first facelift for its smallest but biggest-selling model, the Rio, four years after the current JB-series went on sale in Australia.

The new-look Rio, pictured here as a sedan that clearly shows Kia’s new H-shaped grille design, will enter production in five-door hatch guise from September before arriving here in October.

It will be the most significant in a barrage of 2010 model year updates from Kia this year, starting next week with an upgraded 10MY Sorento 2WD, and also including minor tweaks for the small Cerato sedan, mid-size Magentis sedan and Carnival and Rondo7 people-movers.

The revised Rio’s local launch is likely to be sandwiched by the arrival of the all-new Cerato Koup (in September) and redesigned XM Sorento SUV (in October), which we drove in Korea in June, before all-new replacements for the KM Sportage and MG Magentis models reach Australia 2010.

Badged as the Pride in South Korea, where it goes on sale within weeks, the Rio receives a bolder new front fascia with larger lower air intake and altered foglights, as well as an interior make-over comprising a freshened centre stack, instruments and steering wheel, plus Bluetooth connectivity.

17 center imageThe newer Rio will continue to be available with a (Euro 4 emissions-compatible) 82kW/145kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but the 70kW/125Nm 1.4-litre four now available only in the hatch should be offered in the sedan too – mated to the same five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions.

The flood of 10 updated, facelifted, new or additional models over the next 18 months will mark a change of pace for Kia Australia, which launched the new TD Cerato in January this year, followed by the Grand Carnival CRDi diesel in March and funky new Soul hatch in April.

While the latter has met its less than ambitious sales target of 40-odd per month, the Cerato has been the only shining light this year for Kia, whose sales are down less than that average industry decline at 10.2 per cent, with Cerato sales up 21.5 per cent in the first half of 2009.

Expect the midlife makeover for the Korean brand’s volume-selling Rio, therefore, to come with pricing that doesn’t stray too far from the current model’s $14,990 (1.4) and $16,840 (1.6) pricetags.

What’s coming from Kia:
Sportage 2WD update
10MY Cerato update
10MY Carnival update
10MY Rondo7 update
10MY Magentis update
Cerato Koup September
Rio facelift October
New Sorento October
New Sportage 2010
New Magentis 2010

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