KIA Insider

Kia's new electronic clutch works with hybrid tech

Kia has developed clutch-by-wire technology that lets manual transmissions work with mild-hybrid systems.

The new clutch works by modifying the traditional system with an actuator and "transmission control unit", both of which sitting between the pedal and the hydraulics. We can't help but think it would be easier to replace the hydraulic parts altogether but evidently this is the best way.

Ultimately, it means Kia's 'intelligent manual transmission' (iMT) can open or close the clutch depending on conditions, allowing use of mild hybrid and start/stop technologies. This isn't the first time start/stop has been used in conjunction with a manual but it's certainly a step forward.

Despite the actuation of the clutch being computer controlled, Kia says the pedal “retains the same operation and driver engagement as a conventional manual”.

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The Korean brand added that CO2 emissions of vehicles with the system are reduced by approximately 3 per cent.

Europeans will be able to sample the iMT on the mild hybrid Kia Rio, due later this year.

There isn't any word on if New Zealand will get the hybrid version, but we'll likely continue with the six-speed automatic 1.4-litre atmo four-pot and the seven-speed dual-clutch 1.0-litre turbo triple GT-Line as a range topper.

Kia did say that the transmission will appear on a "number of future models" so there's a chance we might get it in another form.