Finally, the Picanto is the way it deserves to be.
We have long lamented that Kia’s smallest car, the Picanto, was a tale of great strengths hampered by one mighty flaw. We loved how refined it was on the motorway and how ‘grown-up’ it felt behind the wheel, and appreciated the extensive work done to tune the ride & handling to cope with Australian roads just right. But the 1.25-litre naturally-aspirated engine and 4-speed automatic gearbox combo was its Achilles heel, and robbed the Picanto of any potential of being fun and sprightly, as that impressive handling was marred by a lacklustre powertrain.
We weren’t the only ones to arrive at that opinion, and it seems Kia Australia took it to heart. Which is why they are happy to announce (and we are happy to circulate) that they’ve released a new Picanto variant to answer all our prayers. Three-cylinder turbocharged petrol mill, done. 5-speed manual gearbox, check. Even sharper styling for the already handsome little car, settled.
Say hello to the Kia Picanto GT – which is now just $17,990 drive-away (while stocks last).
“We were warned that trying to launch a micro-car into Australia was a fruitless exercise, doomed to failure. Three years on and we are very happy with the way the Picanto has found a comfortable niche. With that in mind, it seemed like the right time to serve a sporty version of the car, a version for which there has been a constant undercurrent of demand.” — Damien Meridith, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Australia
The Picanto GT sits as the top-dog of the lineup, so it gets all the bells and whistles. On the outside, a smattering of orange highlights, 16-inch diamond-cut alloys, chrome door handles, and twin exhaust outlets out the back. There are also a prominent GT badge on the bootlid as to let others know you may not always occupy the left-most motorway lane.
Step inside and you’ll get red & black interior trim on the seats & doors, piano-black inserts on the door-cards with red stripes, a large infotainment screen with smartphone mirroring, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with red contrast stitching). Drivers will also appreciate the retuned suspension designed to reduce body-roll, and revised steering that provides greater feedback through the wheel.
It’s not all look and no shove – the headlining feature of the Picanto GT is that engine. It’s a small 1.0-litre 3-cylinder, which puts out no less than 74kW and 172Nm. Power goes to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox, which is the only gearbox you’ll get in the GT (Kia really listens to its fans). Those figures represent a major jump over the standard Picanto, with its larger 1.25-litre mill putting out just 62kW and 122Nm.
Despite the sharp pricing, the Picanto GT will also offer the full-suite of safety kit as standard, such as AEB, forward-collision warning, and six airbags. Buyers will be spoilt with a choice of four exterior colours too, though this white looks pretty neat doesn’t it?