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Engineering

Drivetrain and Chassis

With the introduction of Kia's in-house 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) engine to the Rio, there are now six power units and three transmissions available. Four of the engines are new to Rio, and in some cases there are improvements to fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, despite the larger body of the latest model.

There has been extensive work to enhance comfort and driver enjoyment through revisions to the suspension system, which continues to be based on independent MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. Much of the improvement in ride and handling is due to the stiffer body shell of the new car, which is made of 51 per cent advanced high-strength steel compared with 33 per cent in the outgoing model.

Refinement has been improved through detailed work on the aerodynamics, body structure and insulation, while active safety benefits from the introduction for the first time in Rio of Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian as well as vehicle recognition and a Lane Departure Warning system, both of which are standard from grade ‘2’ upwards. These features are optional on grade ‘1’ variants.

The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine

Kia has embarked on an ambitious policy of reducing average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of its model range by 25 per cent by 2020, based on 2014 levels. It aims to do this through engine downsizing, more efficient combustion of petrol and diesel power units and the addition of alternative-fuel vehicles where appropriate.

The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine fits in perfectly with this strategy by delivering exceptional power and torque, despite its small capacity, through turbocharging and direct injection. The T-GDi units spray a fine mist of fuel directly into the cylinders through a high-pressure injection system which ensures they use only as much fuel as necessary for the load being put on them. The result is highly efficient combustion with excellent performance. Direct injection with turbocharging also helps to boost low-speed response and driveability.

There are two versions of the 1.0-litre T-GDi in the all-new Rio, both three-cylinder 998cc units with four valves per cylinder. Power outputs are 99bhp at 4,500rpm and 118bhp at 6,000rpm, while they deliver an identical amount of torque – 171Nm continuously from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. The standard-powered version is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox while the higher-powered option is linked to a six-speed manual.

The key targets were instantaneous response, highly efficient combustion and exemplary torque across a wide portion of the rev band. These goals have been more than met with the aid of innovative technical solutions. The T-GDi engines feature laser-drilled injectors with six holes laid out in a pyramid shape so that the fine mist of fuel is spread more evenly throughout the cylinders than if it was being consistently sprayed into certain points.

The T-GDi engine has a straight air intake port which ends in a sharp air intake throat, reducing air resistance at all stages of the process. This improves cylinder tumble flow for faster, more efficient combustion while suppressing engine knocking.

There is a single-scroll turbocharger paired with an electric wastegate motor. This improves turbocharger performance while scavenging clean air for the engine to re-use for combustion. At the same time it allows the wastegate to open to improve the flow of spent exhaust gases. It is an innovative system which allows higher low-end torque, more immediate response at any throttle opening and improved fuel economy at high engine loads.

The engine is fitted with an integrated exhaust manifold which reduces exhaust gas temperatures, bringing the benefits of higher speeds with greater fuel efficiency. Lower temperatures also result in cleaner emissions by allowing the catalytic converter to operate more effectively. Engine temperatures are closely regulated by a dual-thermostat split cooling system, which allows the block and cylinder heads to be cooled independently. The main thermostat controls the flow of coolant to the cylinder heads above 88ºC to reduce knocking, while the engine block thermostat shuts off coolant flow above 105ºC to reduce friction and improve efficiency.

A number of factors contribute towards the exemplary driveability and efficiency of the all-aluminium T-GDi unit. There is continuously variable valve timing on both the inlet and exhaust sides, electronic throttle control and light, low-friction moving parts. The crankshaft is offset from the centre-line to aid smoothness.

The turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold. The integrated exhaust manifold and turbocharger, in a one-piece casting, improve sealing while reducing weight. A number of detailed engineering solutions minimise throttle lag – the delay between the driver pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger delivering boost – and reduce internal friction.

For added durability, the cylinder block has been heat-treated and the crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods have been strengthened.

The 99bhp version of the engine accelerates the all-new Rio from standstill to 60mph in 10.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 115mph. Combined fuel consumption is 62.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 102g/km. The 118bhp version is fitted exclusively to the top-of-the-range ‘First Edition’ Rio. Acceleration from 0-60mph takes only 9.8 seconds and the top speed is 118mph, while combined fuel economy and emissions are 60.1mpg and 107g/km.

The 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre multi-point injection engines

There are two further petrol engines in the all-new Rio, both four-cylinder 16-valve units featuring multi-point fuel injection (MPi). The 1.25-litre unit from the Kappa family, which was available in the previous Rio, is joined by a new 1.4-litre (1,368cc) Kappa engine, which replaces the 1,396cc Gamma unit in the previous Rio.

The entry-level 1.25-litre engine is an aluminium-block 1,248cc unit featuring double overhead camshafts, continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) with low-friction beehive springs, an offset crankshaft and a maintenance-free long-life timing chain. It drives through a five-speed manual gearbox.

It develops 83bhp at 6,000rpm and 121Nm of torque peaking at 4,000rpm. Thanks to CVVT, this engine delivers outstanding performance over a wide portion of the rev range, while its modern design and compact capacity ensure this is achieved with the lowest possible fuel consumption and emissions. Combined economy is 58.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. This easy-going entry-level power unit is ideally suited to urban driving, but is far from out of its depth at highway speeds. It can accelerate the all-new Rio from 0-60mph in 12.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 107mph.

The new 1.4-litre petrol engine is an all-aluminium 16-valve twin-cam unit featuring performance-enhancing continuously variable valve timing on both the inlet and exhaust camshafts and multi-point fuel injection. This ensures high torque at low engine revs for good drivability in cities, and excellent power for the fast motorway speeds common in Europe.

It has a capacity of 1,368cc compared with the 1,396cc of the unit it replaces, and develops 98bhp at 6,000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. It is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or as an option with Rio ‘2’, a four-speed automatic.

The manual gearbox allows 0-62mph acceleration in 11.8 seconds on the way to a top seed of 108mph, with average fuel economy of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km. These are unchanged from the previous model with the Gamma 1.4 engine. With the automatic, official average economy improves by 1.5mpg to 46.3mpg, while CO2 emissions fall by 7g/km to 140g/km.

The 1.4-litre CRDi diesel engine

The dual output diesel engine is a 1.4-litre four-cylinder (1,396cc) unit from Kia’s European-designed and European-made U2 family. It has a cast iron block and aluminum cylinder head with chain driven double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, high-pressure Bosch common rail direct injection, a fixed geometry turbocharger and intake air swirl control.

A new 76bhp version replaces the three-cylinder 1.1-litre unit in the previous Rio, while an 89bhp version continues to be available in Rio ‘3’. They drive through a six-speed manual transmission.

Both versions develop maximum power at 4,000rpm and generate 240Nm of torque from 1,500rpm to 2,000rpm (76bhp) or 1,500rpm to 2,500rpm (89bhp), ensuring excellent driveability across almost the entire rev band. Their respective 0-60mph and top speed figures are 13.5 seconds/102mph and 11.6 seconds/108mph.

Yet the headlines will undoubtedly be taken by their spectacular economy and emissions performance. With the 76bhp version, these are 80.7mpg and 92g/km – improvements of 2.2mpg and 2g/km – while the 89bhp unit continues at 74.3mpg and 98g/km, despite the increase in size with the latest model.

Model
Power bhp
Torque Nm
0-60 sec
Max speed mph
Comb. mpg
CO2 g/km
‘1’ 1.25 5-speed manual ISG
83
121
12.5
107
58.8
109
‘1’ 1.4 CRDi 76bhp 6-speed manual ISG
76
240
13.5
102
80.7
92
‘2’ 1.25 5-speed manual ISG
83
121
12.5
107
58.8
109
‘2’ 1.4 6-speed manual ISG
98
133
11.8
108
56.5
114
‘2’ 1.4 4-speed automatic
98
133
13.4
103
46.3
140
‘2’ 1.0 T-GDi 99bhp 5-speed manual ISG
99
171
10.3
115
62.8
102
‘2’ 1.4 CRDi 76bhp 6-speed manual ISG
76
240
13.5
102
80.7
92
‘3’ 1.0 T-GDi 99bhp 6-speed manual ISG
99
171
10.3
115
62.8
102
‘3’ 1.4 CRDi 89bhp 6-speed manual ISG
89
240
11.6
108
74.3
98
‘First Edition’ 1.0 T-GDi 118bhp 6-speed manual ISG
118
171
9.8
118
60.1
107

EcoDynamics

All manual versions of the all-new Rio are fitted as standard with Kia’s EcoDynamics fuel-saving, CO2-reducing measures. This includes Intelligent Stop & Go engine technology and, with the grade ‘1’ and grade ‘2’ 76bhp diesel.

The ISG system turns off the engine when the car is stationary in traffic and the driver puts the gear lever into neutral and releases the clutch pedal. The engine restarts as soon as the clutch pedal is pushed.

ISG consists of crankshaft position, battery and vacuum sensors plus neutral, on-off and clutch switches that feed into an electronic control unit. This operates the ISG starter, intelligent alternator and cluster.

The crankshaft position sensor measures the crank angle during engine run-out and monitors it while the vehicle is stopped, ensuring the starter is activated for as short a time as possible by optimising cranking and combustion. The battery sensor monitors the battery condition and temperature, while the clutch and neutral switches recognise when drivers wish to continue driving and ensure the engine is started. There is a brake booster pressure sensor to make sure the engine continues to operate if brake boost falls too low.

A heavy-duty maintenance-free AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) battery delivers the power necessary to run the system, and intelligent alternator management reduces drain on the battery while accelerating and recharges the battery when coasting and braking.

All the driver has to do is stop, put the car into neutral and lift his or her foot off the clutch. After a brief pause, the engine cuts out. It restarts as soon as the driver pushes the clutch. The system has been engineered not to stop the engine during warm-up from a cold start or if the air conditioning system is working hard.

Suspension and Steering

The Rio's suspension continues to be based on independent MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear, but it has been completely retuned to build on the driver involvement of the previous model while extending the compliance and comfort of the ride. This has been aided considerably by the much stiffer body shell of the new model.

Spring and damper settings have been completely revised to take advantage of the stiffer body, which allows the suspension to do its work without having to compensate for flexing of the car's structure. The front struts and cross-member are stiffer than in the previous Rio and the torsion beam has been raised, all of which improve stability. The rear dampers are now almost vertical (the incline is 8.4 degrees instead of the previous 25 degrees), while those at the front now benefit from pre-loaded linear valve technology, delivering more linear handling and suspension response over broken surfaces.

Pre-loaded linear valve technology introduces a completely new piston design which not only increases driving comfort but also ensures excellent isolation of vibrations in the vehicle body. Rapid opening and closing processes in the valve ensure outstanding wheel damping, which adds to safety by improving handling precision. In addition, innovative piston geometries further optimise the damper's noise emissions.

The gearbox for the motor-driven power steering (MDPS) has been moved forwards by 28mm, while the castor angle of the front wheels goes up from 4.1 degrees to 4.6 degrees. Both measures improve feel for the driver. The number of teeth on the steering's serration column shaft has been almost doubled, which improves off-centre feel while contributing towards an improvement in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Together, all these changes result in a more compliant and quieter ride, greater stability, faster steering responses with greater feedback and increased driver confidence.

The column-mounted MDPS now requires a reduced 2.63 turns between the extremes of lock for a tighter turning circle of 10.2 metres. Ventilated front disc brakes and solid rear discs are fitted across the range and supported by anti-lock (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and a Brake Assist system (BAS). Collectively, these allow the Rio to be steered and braked at the same time without risk of going out of control, ensure that most braking effort goes to the wheels which are best able to take advantage of it, and automatically deliver maximum stopping power in emergency braking, regardless of the pressure applied to the pedal by the driver.

Wheels of 15, 16 or 17 inches in diameter (steel on grade ‘1’ models; alloy on all others) are fitted, with 185/65 R15, 195/55 R16 or 205/45 R17 tyres. All models have a tyre repair kit in place of a spare wheel.

NVH Counter-measures

The all-new Rio is not only a more engaging car to drive; it is also a quieter one to travel in as a result of a comprehensive package of additional NVH counter-measures.

The insulation of the cabin from engine noise has been improved by the fitment of an elongated upper cowl panel and new thermoplastic elastomer materials on the dash. What engine noise does enter the cabin is now more sporty sounding thanks to new ducting material on the intake side of the engine and the deletion of the resonator, while on the exhaust side there is a new three-baffle system with a dual tube and increased duct ratios.

Road noise has been reduced by the addition of a reinforcing bracket to increase the structural rigidity of the front subframe. The cowl top panel and kick panel between the rear seats have been reshaped to reduce noise radiation, while five rubber seals in the pillars on each side of the car provide further insulation against outside noise.

Last but not least, wind noise is now less thanks to the improved aerodynamics of the all-new Rio (Cd 0.316 instead of 0.33). This has been achieved by fitting larger air deflectors ahead of the front wheels to reduce the vortex around the tyres, adding an air deflector beneath the centre floor and through careful shaping of the rear spoiler garnish, the angle of the tailgate glass and the curvature of the tail lamps.

Safety

The ultra-stiff body shell of the all-new Rio, composed of 51 per cent advanced high-strength steels versus 33 per cent in the previous model, has beneficial effects beyond handling and comfort. It provides a greater barrier against injury in the event of an accident.

The chassis of the new car has improved longitudinal and lateral load paths and greater torsional and bending rigidity than the model it replaces and many leading competitors. Structural improvements include a partitioned inner assembly of the front strut mount, stronger connections in the C-pillar cross-member and the application of more structural adhesives on major chassis components. Advanced high-strength steels reinforce all major chassis parts, and there are now multiple load paths to dissipate crash energy in the front of the car.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), which work together to stabilise the car on slippery road surfaces or when simultaneously cornering and braking, are now joined by a new feature – Straight Line Stability – which senses any difference in applied brake pressure between the right and left of the car and intervenes to keep it straight. Another new feature is Cornering Brake Control, which delivers asymmetrical brake pressure when braking in tight curves to counter loss of traction. All versions of the all-new Rio also have Hill-start Assist to prevent the car from rolling backwards when setting off on steep inclines.

There are six airbags, with pre-tensioners and load limiters to brace occupants in their seats in extreme braking or if an accident is about to happen, and to prevent injury to chests. A visual and audible seat belt reminder warning is fitted, and there are ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.

Technology

The all-new Rio features Autonomous Emergency Braking as part of Kia's advanced driver assistance systems (ADAP). It also features a Lane Departure Warning system. Both are standard from grade ‘2’ upwards and optional with grade ‘1’. And, in an increasingly connected world, the Rio now offers the full Kia Connected Services package powered by TomTom and featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. These are standard with grade ‘3’ and the ‘First Edition’ models.

Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition takes data from radar and a camera to detect sudden and potentially dangerous braking by a vehicle ahead, and activates the brakes. At speeds between 5mph and 50mph it will come to a complete stop, avoiding many potential collisions and minimising the consequences of others. It is also able to detect pedestrians who wander into its path, and apply the brakes in the same way. Visual and audible alerts warn the driver of imminent danger so that manual intervention is possible before the car starts to brake automatically.

The Lane Departure Warning system, which also relies on a camera that in this case recognises the lane markings on roads, senses when the car is about to deviate from its intended course when the indicators have not been activated. Again, the driver is warned visually - via a symbol on the instrument display - and audibly in time to correct the car's trajectory.

A new feature – Straight Line Stability – senses any difference in applied brake pressure between the right and left of the car and intervenes to keep it straight. Another new feature is Cornering Brake Control, which delivers asymmetrical brake pressure when braking in tight curves to counter loss of traction. All versions of the all-new Rio also have Hill-start Assist to prevent the car from rolling backwards when setting off on steep inclines.

Kia Connected Services with TomTom are accessed through a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system. The information available to drivers includes live traffic updates, weather reports, speed camera locations and local point-of-interest searches.

Android Auto is available when paired with Android smartphones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, while Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and newer versions of the Apple handset. Both allow occupants to connect to various apps and functions, including hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Android Auto gives access to Google maps navigation and Google Play music, while Apple CarPlay links to pre-loaded maps, music, podcasts, texts and messages and audiobooks, all through Siri voice control.

A DAB radio is standard from grade ‘2’ upwards, and linked in grade ‘2’ to a 5-inch colour touchscreen display. A reversing camera, with dynamic guidelines, is standard from grade ‘2’. All models have Bluetooth with music streaming, and this is supplemented with voice recognition in grades ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’.

Production

The all-new Kia Rio is built exclusively at Sohari in the Republic of Korea. Sohari is the place where it all started for Kia as we know it today: the plant opened in June 1973. It is located within greater Seoul, to the south-west of the city centre and currently has a staff of just under 5,300. Sohari is capable of building 350,000 cars a year.

Sohari may be Kia’s oldest plant, but it has been extensively modernised to improve its efficiency and the lives of the people working there, reduce its impact on the environment and to ensure that the quality of cars leaving the factory gates is at an all-time high.

Although only about two per cent of a car’s lifetime CO2 emissions are created during its manufacture, this can still amount to a substantial figure when multiplied by the total production capacity of a factory. So, even small improvements can add up to major reductions when rolled out across the entire production network. All Kia plants are working to reduce their impact on the environment by putting in place clean and efficient processes.

Recently, the focus at Sohari has been on developing flexible production systems. As part of that, staff were encouraged to find and adopt 100 innovative production activities under the 'Back to Basic 100' campaign.Under the slogan, 'A changing environment leads to a change of mind', everyone at Sohari has been helping to make the plant less wasteful and more environmentally friendly. As a result, the Sohari plant has been one of Kia’s leading lights in environmental change.

Improved painting facilities have been installed, and every aspect of vehicle production has been under scrutiny to ensure the plant uses less energy and produces less waste. Water and power consumption, dust and CO2 emissions per vehicle produced and contaminants and waste volumes have all been reduced.

Kia has made reducing the amount of raw materials being fed into the production process a major priority in each and every production facility around the globe. Over the last few years there has been significant progress in reducing waste, increasing recycling and developing cleaner production processes.

Exhaust pollutants from Sohari have also decreased dramatically – dust, NOx and SO2 output have all been reduced.

New technology is playing a significant part in environmental improvement. Typical cast melting furnaces produce large amounts of dust and contained within this is a high proportion of zinc. The captured dust is treated and the zinc extracted before being re-used within the production process.

More technology is employed in the machining shops where gearboxes are produced. Compressed air is used as a coolant when machining intricate gearbox internals, rather than cutting oil. This and the associated oil mist are problem pollutants and the new scheme is helping reduce oil use to less than 0.5 per cent.

The green landscape around each facility is an important part of each plant make-up. One ongoing programme is based on a number of ‘ecology gardens’ which are filled with trees and plants resistant and sensitive to environmental changes in air pollution. Sohari is no different, with more than 25,800m2 of green areas and 24,500 trees planted in and around the facility. This has the added benefits of providing a more comfortable environment for the staff and local population and offsetting some of the CO2 output from the plant.

These ‘ecology gardens’ are continually monitored as they act as a real-world indicators to air quality. Each site is broadening its green patches and constantly monitoring air pollution in neighbouring communities. A monthly task for each facility is the ‘One Stream Clean-up’ programme where Kia staff clean and maintain local, natural streams. This is not only to monitor their cleanliness but also to keep them well maintained for the local communities to enjoy.

The overall effect of the many green initiatives – reducing the use of raw materials, recycling more and reducing waste – has resulted in Sohari being officially recognised as an eco-friendly worksite by the Korean Ministry of the Environment.