Recently-updated Hyundai i20 could offer some clues
One of the major shortcomings of the Australian-market Kia Rio is its uninspiring powertrain and transmission combination, but that could be about to change.
With the launch of the facelifted Hyundai i20 range a fortnight ago – which shares various components with the Rio – a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic option was added to the car's 1.0 T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine, something previously not offered.
An updated version of the Rio is yet to be detailed, but the only transmission option for the same 1.0-litre turbo triple in the Kia is a six-speed manual, which ruled it out for Australia at launch due to the low uptake of stick shift vehicles.
While Kia Australia declined to comment on the topic, it's a safe guess the turbocharged engine option could now be on the cards for Australia, given a self-shifting transmission is available across the Hyundai-Kia portfolio.
In its current form, the 1.0 T-GDi powerplant makes 88kW of power at 6000rpm, and 171Nm of torque between 1500 ad 4000rpm.
That compares rather favourably with Australia's sole engine option, the naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre MPI petrol, which makes 74kW at 6000rpm and 133Nm at 4000rpm. It also doesn't help the 1.4 is only available with a four-speed automatic – though the base S grade can be had with a six-speed manual.
Rivals like the Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Swift and Skoda Fabia all offer 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbos with similar outputs, which have better low-down response than their naturally-aspirated counterparts.
Should the turbocharged Rio make it to Australia, that could also see the introduction of autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keep assist for the local range – as the technology was only available with the 1.0-litre turbo at the model's global launch.
Additionally, that could be a ticket for the recently-revealed GT-Line variant to make it to Australia, though like the turbocharged powertrain its availability Down Under is yet to be officially confirmed by the Korean brand's local division.
It's worth mentioning, however, Kia Australia did initially schedule the 1.0-litre Rio for local release for mid-2017, along with a six-speed automatic transmission for naturally-aspirated models – neither eventuated, if you're wondering.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest updates.
Note: Overseas model shown