For car enthusiasts like us, there's generally no substitute for a traditional manual transmission. Recognizing that and responding to customer interest, Kia will make the 2013 Rio SX hatchback available with a manual transmission. Previously, only stripped-out LX models of the Rio hatchback were offered with a shift-it-yourself option.
By offering its six-speed manual transmission alongside a six-speed automatic on the Rio SX hatchback, Kia says it's catering to driving enthusiasts who want the fun of changing gear themselves, but still want a long list of standard equipment. The car was also inspired by the fact that Kia has been promoting the Rio LX hatchback as the basis for its B-Spec race car. Customers who buy a Rio LX can then purchase a $14,000 kit to transform the hatchback into a race car.
"Our customers and the automotive press have been asking for the Rio 5-door SX with a manual transmission, and we've listened," Kia Motors America director of product planning Orth Hedrick said in a statement. "We'll continue to evaluate consumer demand and consider bringing other high-spec manuals to market."
Standard equipment for the 2013 Kia Rio SX manual hatchback includes push-button start, touch-screen navigation, a backup camera, 17-inch allow wheels, LED running lights, sport suspension, satellite radio, and special "sporty" black cloth upholstery. Compare that to the only other Kia Rio available with a manual transmission: the LX trim has 16-inch steel wheels and a four-speaker audio system, but lacks things like cruise control, a telescopic steering wheel, power windows, and power door locks. Under the hood is the same 138-hp, 1.6-liter inline-four engine as any other version of the Kia Rio, which returns 30/40 mpg (city/highway).
Kia will build fewer than 500 examples of the 2013 Rio SX manual. The car starts at $18,650 (after a $750 destination charge).
Kia isn't the only company to make manual transmissions available on higher trim levels of its small cars. Ford recently decided to add a stick-shift option to the top-spec Titanium versions of its Focus, in response to strong customer demand. We say: long live the manual transmission!