The Kia Picanto has been updated for the model year 2017. The carmaker has added the sporty GT-line and S trims to the hatchback’s line-up for the first time. These trims add bodykits, unique paint shades and a different steering wheel.
The updated Picanto will only be sold as a five-door model now. Despite a longer wheelbase and shorter front overhang, though, the new car is no larger than its predecessor – but does offer more head and legroom, as well as a larger boot inside.
The Picanto comes with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol with 67hp and 96.2Nm of torque and a four-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol with 84.1hp; both have been carried over to this new car, but joining the range is a new turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol. With 100.3hp, it’s the most powerful option in the range, and can propel the Picanto to 100kph in 10.1sec. It’s likely to also be the most economical option. The default gearbox choice is a five-speed manual, but a four-speed automatic is available as an option on the 1.25-litre petrol.
Kia claims to have reduced engine vibrations and noise by adding more soundproofing materials and by lowering the windscreen wipers by 6mm to eliminate wind noise at speed. Kia also says that the Picanto’s ride and handling have been improved through the use of modified suspension and a revised steering rack, both of which are said to give the new car ‘agile’ driving dynamics. Torque vectoring by braking also features for the first time, helping to reduce understeer during hard cornering.
The new Picanto’s cabin is dominated by a new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which will be a standard fit for most international markets. Drivers will be able to control their smartphones using the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto services, while the options list includes a reversing camera, wireless smartphone charger and USB port. When it comes to luggage space, the Picanto’s boot can now carry up to 255 litres – which is more than Hyundai’s i10 – and up to 1,010 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Personalisation also plays a big part in the new Picanto. Drivers will be able to specify one of five so-called ‘colour packs’, allowing them to choose colours for the seats and stitching, as well as interior door panels.
Kia says the new Picanto is the safest A-segment car it has ever made, and the new car includes a greater proportion of advanced high-strength steel compared to the outgoing model, which has also reduced its body-in-white weight by 23kg.
Six airbags come as standard, while optional extras include a knee airbag and automatic emergency braking (AEB). AEB will be a crucial factor in the new Picanto achieving a maximum Euro NCAP safety score under the body’s dual ratings system – and increasingly most buyers are paying attention to those safety scores.
As far as pricing goes, the new Picanto will be positioned slightly above its sister car, the Hyundai i10 (Grand i10 for India), in the global markets. Closer to home, the Korean carmaker is yet to identify a location for its first factory in India, and it's only after this big hurdle is cleared that a formal announcement on its entry into India can be expected.
For now, the only official statement Kia has made on its India project is, “We at Kia Motors are continually evaluating potential locations for overseas manufacturing facilities, including India, to secure additional engines for future growth. However, as of now, no concrete plans have been finalised.”