Let me say before I review the KIA Picanto third generation, that I was a fan of the previous model. It was an edgy, funky and stylish little car, and the new generation seems set to take that to new heights. We started the launch driving its older sibling, and that felt good, then hopped into the 3rd Gen, and off we went. Must say it was an improvement on an already good car.
KIA wants the new model to appeal to an energetic and youthful market in the A segment between the ages of 20-35, as well as the older market that are downsizing their cars. Global sales of the current-generation Picanto have totalled more than 1,4 million since 2011, making it one of KIA’s best-selling models. The new model brings increased safety, looks more dynamic, and thanks to their marketing team, have managed to hold prices of the previous model, so by giving the newcomer the best chance of making an impact during a particularly difficult phase of the market in SA.
So, let’s look at the changes, starting with the exterior look of the Picanto. The Picanto looks more defined and well planted than before, partly due to being slightly wider. The ‘’tiger nose’’grille is appealing with the new wrap around headlamps, and although the Picanto is not actually longer than before the side lines make it seem so indeed. New projection headlamps with LED indicator lights & LED daytime running lights in the upper models, with the 15’ alloys give it a sporty air. 11 paint colours give a wide choice to buyers, with my favourites being Celstial Blue & Shiny Red.
Into the cockpit
Modern materials and a new layout give the cockpit a more refined and quality feel. The control’s seem more centred in line of sight, and the satin chromed strip that runs across the dashboard gives good effect. Upholstery in black is available as standard and a more upmarket looking leather in grey/black colour is in the top models.
The Picanto seems roomier despite the fact that it is not bigger than the previous model, it has five doors and the boot space is up to 255 litres. The dash has been moved up by 15mm to give more leg room. It is more comfortable due to better seats, and adjustable head rests for longer journeys.
The KIA Picanto is a comfortable drive, and it is fairly quiet as well. We had some road noise, but nothing to be too concerned about. It handles well, being a smaller car, and we whizzed around the Cape roads happily. The two engines-namely the 1,0L three cylinder pushing out 49kw & 96 Nm, and the 1.25 four cylinder pushing out 61kw & 122kw might sound under powered, but they do the job admirably.
I have driven the previous generation at the Highveld, and it is by no means a speedster, but gets around the city in a zippy fashion. Fuel efficiency is optimum and they come with either 5-speed manual or 4 -speed auto transmissions. The auto only being available on top models.
KIA wants a younger customer, and they define a lot by how connected they are. The Picanto has an up to date Infotainment system that in lower models has a 3’’ screen and a 7’’ screen in top models that gives Bluetooth as standard and Apple Carplay & Android compatibility in the top models. This can also be used as voice recognition in the latter.
Auxiliary and USB ports are located at the base of the centre console, ensuring drivers can play music directly from a smartphone or MP3 player, and keep mobile devices charged on the move. High specification models also feature a rear-view parking assist system, incorporating a rear-view parking camera with dynamic guidelines, as well as electrically folding, and heated side door mirrors.
Thanks to a high use of high strength steel, the Picanto is one of the safest KIA models made. All models bar the entry-level models are equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), as well as a driver and passenger airbag. All models are fitted as standard with ISOFIX child seat anchors.
The range now sports four different variants starting with the START, moving up spec levels to STREET, STYLE & lastly the SMART.The spec level on the top models qualifies the higher prices for these models. The KIA class-leading 5-year / Unlimited Km Warranty is available.
Picanto 1.0 START Manual R 134,99
Picanto 1.0 STREET Manual R 149,995
Picanto 1.0 STYLE Manual R 159,995
Picanto 1.0 STYLE Auto R 172,995
Picanto 1.0 SMART Manual R 179,995
Picanto 1.2 START Manual R 150,995
Picanto 1.2 START Auto R 163,995
Picanto 1.2 STREET Manual R 165,995
Picanto 1.2 STYLE Manual R 175,995
Picanto 1.2 STYLE Auto R 188,995
Picanto 1.2 SMART Manual R 195,995
The Kia Picanto will stand tall in its segment, will it be a segment leader? Time will tell.