Kia’s second-smallest hatch is about to get a technology boost.

    Kia Australia is welcoming the upgraded Rio hatchback into showrooms in the coming weeks, bringing enhanced tech and safety for minor price increases across the range.

    First announced in May, the 2021 Kia Rio brings class-leading infotainment as well as upgrades to drivetrains and safety depending on model.

    Prices start from $18,090 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Rio S manual, climbing to $23,990 for the flagship GT-Line with dual-clutch automatic.

    As is Kia fare of late, the Rio range will launch with attractive national drive-away pricing across the line-up:

    • Rio S 6MT: $18,990 drive-away
    • Rio S 6AT: $19,990 drive-away
    • Rio Sport 6MT: $20,990 drive-away
    • Rio Sport 6AT: $21,990 drive-away
    • Rio GT-Line 7DCT: $24,490 drive-away

    Across the board that marks an increase of between $500 and $1800 depending on model, with the Sport grade receiving the greatest price hikes.

    Key changes for MY21 include a new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit, up from the outgoing model’s 7.0-inch unit, featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment.

    At this stage there’s no other light car in Australia offering wireless smartphone mirroring.

    Buyers of the Rio S now get the option of a six-speed automatic, too, rather than the archaic four-speeder from before. A 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol is carried over for S and Sport trims, outputting 74kW and 133Nm.

    The mid-tier Sport gets probably the most attention to go with the largest price increase.

    In addition to the aforementioned infotainment upgrade, the Sport now comes as standard with active safety systems previously reserved for the GT-Line – namely autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision warning, and lane keep assist.

    That’s in addition to the standard six airbags, in the S grade, which unfortunately continues to do without key active safety tech expected of a brand new car in 2020. Sport models also pick up driver attention alert as well as high beam assist.

    At the top of the range, the sporty GT-Line gets a detuned version of the previous model’s 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, now rated at 74kW down from 88kW, with torque unchanged at 172Nm.

    The GT-Line benefits from the addition of climate control air-conditioning with auto defogger for MY21, with both Sport and GT-Line variants picking up a larger 4.2-inch colour driver instrument display.

    You’ll be able to distinguish the MY21 Kia Rio line-up courtesy of a slimmer front grille, lower and wider front bumper and a “distinctive” new fog light housing.

    Additionally, there’s two new colours available for the GT-Line – Perennial Grey (also available for S and Sport), as well as Sporty Blue (pictured).

    Despite the welcome changes across the range, Australian-delivered versions of the Kia Rio will miss out on some of the innovative changes announced for the nameplate in Europe, including 48V mild-hybrid powertrains, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, as well as semi-autonomous highway driving capability thanks to adaptive cruise and lane follow assist systems.

    European models also now get LED headlights as standard, whereas the brighter lighting isn’t available on Australian Rios.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for further details of the MY21 Kia Rio, including an Australian first drive review when vehicles arrive later this month.

    Do the 2021 upgrades put the Kia Rio on your light car shopping list? Let us know in the comments

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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