Kia tries to fix something that doesn't need fixing

Jun 26, 2020 | Same topic: Leading Edge Tech Trends
But it makes a whole lot of sense – at least in this application.

Car enthusiasts love cars with manual transmissions. While automatics are great with daily driving, manuals are arguably more fun to drive because it provides the driver a direct line of control with regards to how a car changes gears.

And of course, with more robust transmissions, powerful cars, and talented drivers, the results can vary from insane but fun things like drifting, performing donuts, and many other cool stuff.

As the car technology advances however, more and more car companies which are still making manual cars, are switching to non-mechanical “clutch-by-wire” systems.

Case and point is Kia which recently revealed more details about its all-new intelligent manual transmission (iMT). Is this an improvement over the regular mechanical manual transmission? Well, maybe or maybe not.

A picture of a car's interior with the iMT

Here's how the iMT will look like inside a car. It's exactly like a normal manual car

Why fix something that isn’t broken?

According to Dr. Michael Winkler, the Head of Powertrain at the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre, the iMT provides vast improvements to a powertrain’s performance and efficiency. He also added that with the new iMT, the company will be able to provide markets that prefer to have hybrid vehicles, as well as electric powered cars available in manual.

With regards to operating the new iMT system, it is similar to a normal manual. One still needs to press the clutch, although the feel of it might be slightly different as compared to a conventional clutch. The iMT will only be available on hybrids and EVs, and it is now integrated on the Kia Rio EcoDynamics+ hybrid. The said car model is due to be sold in Europe in the third quarter of 2020.  

A picture of the Kia iMT system with parts labels

The left side shows how the iMT is linked to the transmission, the the ride portion shows a normal clutch

Do note that other manufacturers have tried their hand on a EV with a “real” manual transmission. In the case of Ford, it was the Mustang Lithium Prototype which had a five-speed. The aforementioned five-speed however, was made by a third-party company called Getrag, and it was an expensive, over-engineered monster of a tranny.

That being said, we’re guessing that normal mechanical transmissions with normal clutches won’t stand the added rigors, and/or the complexity of a hybrid or electric vehicle. Electrified vehicles afterall, spreads its torque way differently than a normal internal combustion car does. So yeah, that’s probably a reason as to why Kia needed to develop the iMT. 

A picture of the 2021 Kia Rio on a parking lot at night

As to how the Rio EcoDynamics+ will look like, well we're guessing that it's look like the 2021 Kia Rio

For more updates on this development by Hyundai-Kia, keep reading here on


Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar learned how to drive a car years before he got his license. Today, he's still looking for that perfect '90s Japanese coupe to drive into the sunset while listening to Crazy Little Love by Nuage. Also has a thing for badass off-road vehicles and weird engine swaps.