Kia’s all-new third-generation Picanto has arrived in Australia, bringing a newer design, more tech, and promises an overall improved package to stir up the market. They’ve opted to offer it to buyers here as a single high spec variant (the S) that starts from $14,190.
The car itself occupies the same dimensions on the road but thanks to some clever packaging, Kia says their new Picanto is roomier than its ever been with more leg- and headroom over the competition. More impressively, boot space has increased by 55-litres to 255-litres with the seats up, resulting in a total cargo carrying capacity of 1,010-litres when folded down.
They’ve also endeavoured to alleviate the typical weaknesses that come with cars this small, such as refinement and high speed stability. To the former, extra soundproofing and strategic placement of vibration dampeners help to isolate the cabin, both from outside disturbances and from the engine and boot compartments, such as revised mounts and more obscured wiper blades.
Structurally, the Picanto is touted to be one of the most rigid cars in its segment with double the proportion of high strength steel used in its construction. In spite of this, the new car is lighter than the outgoing model, aiding handling and fuel economy.
Inside, the Picanto features a much improved layout that impresses upon the modernity and on-road refinement it now possesses. A central touchscreen infotainment unit is present with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with buttons flanking the 7-inch display for the most common functions.
Naturally, with it being sold as a single high-spec model, the all-new Picanto comes with an impressive list of safety features. Not that the previous version was much of a slouch in this department as it did have 6 airbags, all-round disc brakes, and rear parking sensors as standard. This 3rd-gen model carries over all these, but adds automatic headlights, a reversing camera, and even passive cruise control.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a notable absentee from what is otherwise a class leading tech and safety feature list, though it’s reportedly a feature that’s undergoing testing and should be introduced into the Picanto range by year’s end. Having just been launched, ANCAP hasn’t put it through a comprehensive crash test and safety assessment, though it's due to be updated soon.
One more carryover from the older model is the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre Kappa four-cylinder petrol engine. Here it’s been tuned to eek out a little more power, rising by 2kW to a total of 62kW and 122Nm of peak torque.
It’s offered with a 5-speed manual or a more expensive (by $1,500) automatic with a mere four forward ratios. Pick the lighter, cheaper, and more efficient three-pedal option, and fuel consumption can dip to 5.0-litres/100km.
Kia insists that the new Picanto had undergone extensive local testing to fine tune the car for the Australian market, with revised spring and damper rates as well power steering tweaks to yield a more agile and responsive drive. Walking the line between safety and handling, they’ve added brake-based torque vectoring that can help reduce understeer and improve stability by braking the inside wheel slightly when cornering.
- 2017 Kia Picanto S - Manual - $14,190 (plus on-road costs)
- 2017 Kia Picanto S - Automatic - $15,690 (driveaway)