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Future models - Kia - Rio - GT Line

Kia Picanto, Rio to score GT-themed turbos

Boost juice: Under the bonnet of the Rio GT Line (below), Kia’s 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine is expected to make around 88kW/172Nm, while the Picanto GT (left) is likely to produce 74kW/172Nm with the same motor.

Turbo 1.0-litre three pots on the way for Kia Picanto and Rio models by year’s end

Kia logo13 Jun 2018

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) is stepping up its light-car attack with a performance-themed powertrain expansion in both the successful Picanto micro car and Rio light-hatch ranges, headlined by the debut of a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine.

 

With both upgrades due by the end of this year, the much-anticipated downsized 1.0-litre turbo will be the main act in the new flagship GT in Picanto and up-spec GT-Line in Rio, giving each model a useful output boost compared to their existing 62kW/122Nm 1.2-litre and 74kW/133Nm 1.4-litre naturally aspirated fours that will continue in their respective lower-line variants.

 

Expected to start at about $19,000 before on-road costs, the Picanto GT’s T-GDI engine will deliver about 74kW of power and 172Nm of torque to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, shaving more than two seconds off the regular 1.2 manual’s circa-12.0 second 0-100km/h sprint-time in European-spec versions.

 

The Rio GT-Line’s power output, meanwhile, will be tuned to produce 88kW (but an identical 172Nm) to help deal with the extra mass of the bigger and heavier hatchback. It will also offer a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) to help take on rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo, Mazda2 Genki and Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo.

 

Whether a cheaper Rio GT-Line manual is also made available is not yet known.

 

According to KMAu product planning general manager Roland Rivero, the move to offer higher-performance derivatives follows the unexpected success of the ‘stripes and spoilers pack’ Picanto Australian Open (AO) auto special edition that was offered for $16,777 driveaway in January, as well as the similarly specified GT-Line auto from $17,490 driveaway the followed in April.

 

“We trialled it as an AO edition in Picanto, of which every car we ordered all sold very quickly, and the dealer network screamed at the regional general manager asking for more,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the new Cerato sedan in Adelaide last week.

 

“It’s selling very well, and we’re up to about 70 per cent market share in that micro segment, with that GT-Line variant being incremental (bringing new customers to the brand) and higher margin.”

 

While Mr Rivero would not be drawn on an on-sale date, he admitted the chances of a launch in the near future were strong, adding that an appetite for driver-focused but affordable hatches was growing in Australia.

 

“The (Picanto GT) 1.0-litre turbo is still under study… but it is looking very well,” he revealed.

 

“It would make sense in the Australian perspective for that to be called the GT, with a unique suspension tune and obviously the powertrain advantages. And while it will be a five-speed manual only, for the weight and what it represents … it will do very well for us, and another incremental opportunity for us towards the tail end of the year.”

 

Meanwhile, although the Rio upgrade with the 1.0 T-GDI has been mooted since the current, fourth-generation model was unveiled at the Paris motor show nearly two years ago, it’s been a manual-only proposition overseas and deemed unsuitable for Australia’s mainly-auto market preference.

 

That, combined with limited supply due to unexpectedly strong global demand and capacity issues out of South Korea, has also delayed the GT-Line’s market launch in Australia until later this year.


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