If you ask one of Kia’s public relations staffers what’s among the most frequently requested cars the automaker could sell here, they’ll probably say a high-level Kia Rio with a manual transmission.
I’ve asked about it. The guys at our sister publication Motor Trend have, too. And we’re pretty sure there have been dozens of other people at press events who’ve bugged Kia’s staff about it, too, as Kia already sells loaded-up Rio SX hatchbacks in South Korea with a manual transmission.
And with Kia’s recent involvement in B-Spec racing, stripping out Rio hatchbacks and commissioning them for racecar duty, it would serve right to mention that if the automaker touts its subcompact as a sporty car, it ought to be available in with a manual transmission in addition to the six-speed automatic it’s been given since the onset. Now, it is.
While Kia has sold its base-level Rio LX with a manual since its introduction, it’s not offered the stick with any other model. Now, though, Kia has announced that it will be selling a limited number of 2013 Kia Rio SX 5-door hatchbacks with the manual. Like all other Rios, the manual will have a 1.6-liter, 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine powering it. And like other SX models, it’ll have 17-inch wheels, LED headlight accents and full LED tail lights, a rearview camera, push-button starter, and Bluetooth. It’ll even come with Kia’s in-dash, touchscreen navigation system.
The 2013 Kia Rio SX M/T will come in just two colors, Signal Red and Electron Blue. And it will feature black cloth seats.
Starting at $18,650, including $750 for destination and handling, the 2013 Kia Rio SX M/T will be limited to just under 500 examples for 2013. And if it proves successful, you can bet Kia will be quick to ramp up production for 2014, helping lead the comeback tour for the clutch pedal.